Over the weekend, my GF reminded me that it was a year ago that she left for a retreat at the Ashram. It was during the time that she was away that I sunk into a place of bitterness about the future of my transition. The initial glow of starting HRT and getting top surgery was fading, and I grew increasingly unsettled about the female gender marker on my birth certificate (particularly with regard to my passport and international travel.) While I didn’t suffer much dysphoria at the presence of female organs in my body, (as of 2009) a complete hysterectomy is required to change gender on Quebec birth certificate. Now 5 months post-op from a laparoscopically-assisted vaginal hysterectomy (LAVH) with bilateral salpingo and oopherectomy (say that 10x fast!) I’m no less bothered by the fact that the government can legislate my body in this way. Identity documents aside though, other compelling reasons in favor of a hysto were starting to emerge last August, and I grudgingly realized that my medical transition was far from over.
A hysterectomy was not the only obstacle in my path to being certified male by Quebec though: I was informed by multiple agents at the Directeur de l’état civil that I was also required to move back to Quebec for 12 months. This is absurd of course; I have a business, and own a home on the other side of the country. I haven’t lived in Quebec since 1979! Alas, recent residency is a requirement, I was told.
My fluency in French is certainly not what it used to be, and I decided that it would be a good idea to have a French-speaking advocate in Quebec who could possibly help clarify this ridiculous residency requirement. Surely, I was just misunderstanding something. My contact at Project 10 in Montreal confirmed the bad news though: the residency requirement to change a gender marker in Quebec was real. I was also in touch with a couple of other Quebec-born trans people who’d been denied their applications to have their gender marker updated because of this residency requirement. I heard about one woman who engaged a lawyer to assist with the application and was still denied. It wasn’t looking good.
Was there a way around the residency requirement? Yes: Persistance.
How I got Quebec to issue a new birth certificate with my new name and male gender marker
I called the Directeur de l’état civil again. “Je besoin d’aide en Anglais, s’il vous plait.” I pressed the agent: Didn’t it seem completely absurd that I should have to move across the country to change one letter on a document? She agreed, checked with a superior, and returned to tell me that she thought maybe that would only apply to applicants currently living in Quebec. Well, now we’re getting somewhere! She referred me to “Mr. Ali” and told me to expect his call within a couple of days.
Mr. Ali was incredibly helpful and told me that there are “holes in law #137” that allow them to update gender markers without the residency requirement to “help people like” me.
Here’s what I had to do:
- (Get a hysterectomy! Other medical requirements: 1 year HRT, top surgery.)
- Provide an original letter from each of my surgeons confirming my surgeries.
- Provide a letter from my Canadian-licensed physician confirming my surgeries and hormone therapy.
- To change name in Quebec, provide my original BC Change of Name Certificate.
Mr. Ali told me they would make the name and gender marker change in their records and confirm with me by mail, then I could apply for a copy of my updated birth certificate. I sent these documents (along with a cover letter) directly to Mr. Ali. Almost two months later, I received an envelope with my original BC Change of Name Certificate (returned) plus an application form for copies of my birth certificate. No confirmation letter. Did they update my birth record? Or, will I order a birth certificate and have it arrive with my old name and female gender marker? I called Mr. Ali and he assured me that their records were updated and that my new birth certificate would indeed bear my new name and an “M.” (Still, a confirmation letter would have been nice…)
I completed the application form, ordering one large birth certificate (for my safety deposit box) and one wallet-size, and paid the higher “Accelerated Processing” fee. I mailed in my package on July 31.
10 Days Later…
I opened the mail box and found a thick envelope from the Directeur de l’état civil. So fast! A rejection?
No, a redemption.
The thick black ink on the textured parchment spells out my full name and boldly states, Sex: Male.
Unbelievable. It worked!
Quebec gender marker correction expenses
- Fee for support letter from GP: $25
- Cost to ship documentation to Quebec: $13
- Accelerated fee for 2 copies of updated Quebec birth certificate: $70
- Cost to ship birth certificate application to Quebec: $13.34
- = $121.34
Being Certified Male: Priceless.
Side note: Quebec issued me a new birth registration number. I wonder what happens to the old number? Is it linked to my new record? Is my female record easily retrieved or sealed away? I should find out from Mr. Ali…
Next up: Accelerated application for a new passport. I think I can get a new one within 48 hrs if I apply in person in Victoria, BC. I’d like to cross the border for Gender Odyssey next month on a male passport.
Also, I need to update my Social Insurance Number account and confirm with credit bureaus that my records have been updated (I think this may have happened when I renewed my mortgage.) That will complete the name / gender / identity document part of my transition. Out of curiosity, I may order a background check on myself to see how my identities come up.