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Court orders Sask. government to allow removal of gender from birth certificates

The trial of three men charged with first-degree murder resumed in Saskatoon Wednesday and was marked by the cross-examination of a former drug dealer.
Saskatchewan is the first jurisdiction in Canada where the courts have ordered the government to allow the removal of gender markers on birth certificates. File / Global News

A judge has ordered the removal of gender markers from Saskatchewan birth certificates.

The court ruling, made Thursday, found portions of The Vital Statistics Act were contrary to section 12 of The Saskatchewan Human Rights Code which prohibits denial of accommodation, service, or facilities based on a prohibited ground.

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It makes the province the first jurisdiction in Canada to have a court order the government to allow the removal of gender markers on birth certificates.

“This court order marks an important day in our province,” David Arnot, chief commissioner of the Saskatchewan Human Rights Commission (SHRC), said in a release.

“The removal of gender markers from birth certificates will greatly benefit our transgender community.”

The ruling from the court removes the age limit for making changes, allowing people under the age of 18 to apply to change the gender marker on their birth certificate.

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It also requires the government to allow for the removal of the “M” and “F” designations.

READ MORE: N.B. releases change of sex designation form, transgender advocates say it’s incomplete

The SHRC brought two separate cases to the court after two human rights complaints were made.

The first involved a person who said the act discriminated against her by not outlining the criteria to change her sex designation.

In the second case, a person said they were discriminated against because there was no option to remove the sex designation from their birth certificate.

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The government admitted the act breached the Saskatchewan Human Rights Code and was ordered by the court to remedy the breaches within 45 days.

“I’d like to thank the complainants and their families for their courageous pursuit of this important human rights issue,” Arnot said.

We know transgender people and people who identify as non-binary face discrimination in many aspects of life – housing, employment, even travel restrictions – in part because of the mismatch between their gender identity and their government-issued identification.

“This order is certainly a step towards resolving those issues.”

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“I’m ecstatic that Justice Krogan had the courage to sign this order. It is amazing, and to base it on a human right issue is amazing, and we’re all shaking. As it was said before, this will save lives. The statistics of self-harm is so high, and to have these kids supported is amazing,” said Dr. Frans Forsberg, parent of Renn Forsberg, two of the key persons who took this case forward.

“It’s been five years. Renn told us who she was when she was two years old. So that was an important time for us, it was a learning curve for me. I had to educate myself.”

Forsberg hopes that this is a way for non-binary people around the world to educate themselves and make the world a safer place.

“The statistics right now are saying one out of five of us are gender non-binary, and I wouldn’t be surprised if most of us are, but we’ve been put in these boxes from birth and it no longer has to be that way,” she went on to say.

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Forsberg extended her appreciation for Justice Krogan and her legal team and said they’ve been “phenomenal” and “so supportive”.

Skylar Forsberg, 13, Forsberg’s daughter said not only is this a huge moment for the family, it’s a huge moment for everyone.

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“I’ve had some very supportive friends helping me out through this long, long thing, and today is supposed to be a really big day for everyone, for Ren and me,” said Skylar.

She said she knew it would come one day and was always optimistic.

As for Dustin Dyck, one of the key persons to take this case forward, and parent to Jordyn Dyck, his child who goes by ‘he’ or ‘they/them’, he has agreed that this is a victory for everybody.

“Jordyn identifies as non-binary, so to have them be able to remove their gender from their birth certificate, and not have the issues when it comes to health care, drivers licenses, all that stuff, was a big part of this, but then as a side note, as I’ve gotten involved in the community and have  met many non-binary people and they all tell me the same story that they want gender removed and they want to be able to be themselves, so it’s a victory for everybody.”

READ MORE: Sask. families of transgender and gender fluid youth trying to change ID rules

Dyck is hoping this decision will eliminate the issue overall and that other courts will see it as a precedent and be able to make an easier decision to take steps forward.

“This will help kids and adults. Nobody under 18 previous to this could change. It’s really hard, and Jordyn can probably speak to this better than I can, but in schools and in settings where you’re being misgendered because it’s on your report card, or on your health certificate, or wherever it happens to be, I think this will help the kids be able to change and match who they truly are, added Dyck.

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“School is hard because I don’t know what bathroom to go in. Like, there’s a gender-neutral bathroom and it’s all the way downstairs, and I don’t want to go all the way downstairs if I’m all the way on the other side of the school,” said Jordyn.

“My teachers call me a female, but my principal has emailed them a few times now saying that I’m not a female, so they have changed a bit but they still make mistakes.”