New Gender Neutral ID Options for Ontario Residents
Health Cards and driver's licenses to be more inclusive
An exciting new option is on its way for the people living in the province of Ontario. According to the Minister of Government and Consumer Services, Ontario is changing how it displays sex and gender information on driver's licenses and health cards.
Starting in early 2017, Ontario driver’s licenses will be offering another, more inclusive, option than just marking “M” for male, or “F” for female. The option “X” will also be available for those who don’t identify exclusively as either male or female.
More Inclusivity in Ontario…
These changes are part of a government plan to be more inclusive toward all people, including those in the LGBTQ community. Minister Marie-France Lalonde addressed these new options to reporters by saying that, “Many Ontarians do not identify as female or male. As society’s understanding of gender evolves, government must adapt. Part of that is being more thoughtful about how and when we collect gender or sex information, and how we use it. We look forward to getting input from the public on these important policy changes this summer.
As of June 13, the Ontario Health cards have stopped displaying a person’s gender entirely. This change in no way changes the function of the card, or does it affect the card’s validity. The Minister of Health and Long-Term Care, Eric Hoskins has said that, “The purpose of health cards is to show that the card holder is eligible for public health care. A person’s sex is not relevant.” Hoskins also went on to say that the people of Ontario should always feel “comfortable and safe,” especially with their healthcare.
…And Hopefully for the Rest of Canada
The rest of Canada might not be that far behind Ontario, as Prime Minister Justin Trudeau just told a television station that Canada is exploring the use of gender neutral options on federal identity cards as well. Trudeau, who participated in the downtown Toronto Pride parade this summer along with other politicians, did not give details, saying only the government was exploring the "best way" and studying other jurisdictions.
There are no fees for a new health card, and people who want a new one without a sex identifier before their renewal date can go to a Service Ontario Centre or call 1-866-532-3161.
Ontario is not the first to make the change to a gender neutral option. Australia, Nepal and New Zealand also mark genders with an “X” when it is not otherwise specified. The International Civil Aviation Organization, which promotes consistency among travel documents, also accepts this as standard.
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