Advocates are sounding the alarm over new legislation proposed by the provincial government that they say would set Quebec back on trans rights.
Proposed Thursday by Justice Minister Simon Jolin-Barrette, Bill 2 sets to amend the civil code and only allow transgender people who undergo gender-affirming surgery to request an official sex change on their birth certificate.
“This would absolutely make Quebec the most regressive in Canada for trans rights,” said Florence Ashley Paré, a doctoral student at the University of Toronto Faculty of Law who is studying how science is used in legal cases involving trans youth.
Paré said there is no other province or territory in the country that requires trans people to undergo surgery to access civil status change to their identity.
“This bill will set us back 15 years,” said Québec solidaire’s Manon Massé, who vowed her party would fight the Coalition Avenir Québec (CAQ) bill at the National Assembly.
Paré, who is trans themselves, told Global News the legislation stands out as being the most regressive bill proposed on trans issues in the history of Canada. “All other bills were about progress. This is an exceptional case where we would go back on rights.”
The legislation, which contains 300 articles and will be the subject of public consultations, would essentially create separate sex and gender sections on birth certificates. Should a trans person not have undergone surgery, they would have to assign their sex at birth and would only be eligible to select the gender they identify with.
According to Paré and Massé, this would create a dangerous constant outing of trans people that would make them vulnerable to discrimination.
“[It would also create] situations where people might get surgery they otherwise didn’t want just to meet the prerequisite from the government.”
Massé said the bill goes backwards on trans, intersex and non-binary rights in Quebec.
A 2020 report from Trans PULSE Canada suggests that trans and non-binary Canadians face increased levels of harassment, physical violence and sexual assault.
According to data released by the Quebec government in 2017, over 40 per cent of the province’s population surveyed has witnessed an act of transphobic or homophobic discrimination.
–with files from the Canadian Press
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