Why are Trans people told Ontario requires SRS for IDs when it’s not?

ontario gender marker
Diana Bosco, who transitioned to female four years ago, is attempting to get an Ontario photo card — government-issued ID for those without a driver’s licence — with her ‘sex designation’ listed as ‘F.’ But she says she has only met with barriers. (Evan Mitsui/CBC)

One Ontario transgender woman has learned through tumultuous trial and error that she didn’t need surgery for a gender marker update. Diana Bosco struggled to get what she was legally entitled to because wasn’t able to present an updated Birth Certificate because her country of birth won’t allow it.

On 11 April 2012, the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario ruled that gender confirmation surgery is no longer required for a change in registered gender on Ontario documents. In its decision, the Tribunal ordered that the Ontario government “shall cease requiring transgender persons to have ‘transsexual surgery’ (sic) in order to obtain a change in sex designation on their registration of birth” and has 180 days to “revise the criteria for changing sex designation on a birth registration”.

A provincial legal change of gender is not accessible to residents who were not born in Ontario. However, the Ontario Government affirms that a resident, regardless of birthplace, may amend the gender marker on their driver’s license and photo card.

However, the process of updating gender on IDs in Ontario Canada remains fraught with barriers enforced by misinformed provincial employees who rely on vague instructions.

Most provincial employees remain under the misconception that applicants must have SRS and a signed letter from a licensed doctor certifying that it was performed before they can issue a new ID.

The main resource for transgender people in Ontario, the Toronto non-profit LGBT 519 is overwhelmed and isn’t taking new applicants. Even when it was, it took months even years to complete the process.

The 519 is holding twice-daily online ID clinics to help you through the process. This statement can be found on their website.

“June 2021: Due to an overwhelming demand for services, the waitlist for the Virtual Trans ID Clinic is currently closed. We are doing our best to meet community needs, and apologize for the long wait. Our services will return as soon as we have the capacity to take new cases. Please check back in the coming months.”

Ever since Diana Bosco transitioned to female four years ago, she’s been attempting to get identification that accurately reflects her gender — a process she describes as invasive and stymied by systemic discrimination against transgender people.

She’s currently trying to get an Ontario photo card — government-issued ID for those without a driver’s license — with her “sex designation” listed as “F.”

But she said she has only met with barriers.

“It’s been an impossible struggle,” Bosco said. “It feels like all the old hate just lingers around in the system and everywhere. I don’t know what to do. I just want to live my life, but I’m struggling here.”

Earlier this month, Bosco and her social worker, Margie Boese, with LOFT Community Services went to a Service Ontario location in west Toronto so Bosco could apply for the card. She currently has only a health card, which means she can’t properly do her taxes or apply for assistance programs such as the Canada emergency response benefit, which was offered last year to help those affected by COVID-19.

Bosco said she was asked by Service Ontario staff if she’d had “bottom surgery” and told she’d need to provide a note from her surgeon and the contact information.

https://www.ontario.ca/page/change-sex-designation-your-government-ids Change from M to F or F to M:

To change the sex designation on your Ontario Photo Card from male (M) to female (F) or female (F) to male (M), go to a ServiceOntario centre near you and bring an original and valid document, that indicates male (M) or female (F) from the list below:

birth certificate

birth certificate with parental information, or certified copy of birth registration

If you do not have one of the above you will need to bring the following two documents:

a letter from a doctor licensed by the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario or a psychologist (or psychological associate) licensed by the College of Psychologists of Ontario. The letter must:

be on the doctor’s letterhead

state that the doctor has examined or treated you and the change in the sex designation on your Ontario Photo Card is appropriate

be signed by the doctor

a letter from you that includes:

the change you want to make

your full name

your current address

your Ontario Photo Card number

the name and address of the doctor or psychologist (or, psychological associate), who has signed the letter (described above) in support of the change

Surgery is not required as a condition for sex designation changes. However, if you have had surgery, you can present documentation from a recognized specialist (such as the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health or other comparable institutions) instead of a letter from a doctor, psychologist or psychological associate.

“It is absurd to me,” Bosco said. “My medical information is between me and my doctor only. It was really humiliating to have to defend myself, my gender, to some random person.”

Besides, she said, whether she’s had genital reconstruction or breast surgery is irrelevant to her identifying as female.

“I know who I am. I don’t need to prove it to you,” she said.

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