QUEBEC — Has Quebec opened a legal Pandora’s box by relaxing the rules on changing gender designation?
People in Quebec can now change their gender designation and names on provincial documents without having to have sexual reassignment surgery (what some have called “forced sterilization”) or undergo hormone therapy. They don’t even need to see a therapist. They simply need to sign a form and have someone attest to the fact that they have identified as the opposite of their birth designation for at least a year.
Objectively speaking, a person assigned male at birth doesn’t have to do anything to feminize their bodies in order to change their official sex designation. In the government’s eyes, it is enough that they self-identify as female.
One of the reasons why the rules were relaxed in Quebec was because, as one trans advocate here puts it, SRS is invasive and dangerous. She and her organization lobbied hard for the rule revision, and the government has obviously agreed.
Which begs the question: What about all the people in Quebec who did have sexual reassignment surgery before the rules were changed on Oct. 1, 2015? Using MtF people as an example: Before they could change their gender designation, they had to have sexual reassignment surgery, undergo hormone therapy, see a therapist and a psychologist, and live the real-life test for at least a year in which they had to present as a woman 24/7 — i.e. be a feminine stereotype in the eyes of the patriarchy.
Granted, most women I know who have had SRS say they would have gone through with it anyway, because they wanted to feminize their bodies as much as possible.
And I imagine that many trans people will still opt for SRS in Quebec, despite the relaxed rules.
But legally speaking, has Quebec opened a Pandora’s box? Might it face a class-action suit from people who had SRS under the old rule? After all, the province seems to be admitting now that SRS is dangerous and invasive and that people shouldn’t have to go through it to change gender designation. Or, to avoid a class action, should Quebec simply compensate people who underwent SRS under the old regime?
Another legal question: The province has been paying for people to have SRS. Will it keep doing so now? Or will it say that the surgery is no longer a requirement to change gender designation, and thus is elective?
As for the surgery itself, will Montreal surgeons still need documentation from therapists and psychologists before they will do SRS on a Quebecer?
No doubt, there are more questions, both legal and technical. And, perhaps, social as well — a subject for another column.