Change comes after complaint
As of February 22, 2022, Saskatchewan residents have the option to leave the sex designation blank on government-issued driver’s licences and identification cards. Saskatchewan Government Insurance (SGI) is offering this option to indicate no sex has been specified, and said this policy gives more inclusive options for its customers. Penny McCune, chief operating officer of the SGI Auto Fund said in a press release that SGI has customers who wish to refrain from identifying with any sex on their identification documents or licence, and that this change would give them flexibility in how they wish to be identified. Before this decision, SGI customers were able to use the letter X to leave gender unspecified, an option around 300 customers currently use. However, concerns were expressed that this option did not resonate with many.
The Saskatchewan Human Rights Commission (SHRC) said the change came in response to a complaint to its office. Barry Wilcox, chief commissioner of the SHRC, said that the omission welcomes this change as a sign of progress in our province. The SHRC added that the new designation option is a result of a settlement agreement achieved through the complaint resolution process. Wilcox also expressed hope that this will help address the discrimination in housing, employment, and travel that many gender-diverse people face.
Earlier, an SHRC complaint resulted in a consent order from the Court of Queen’s Bench in 2016, stating that adults in Saskatchewan who want the gender designation on their birth certificate changed no longer require surgery in order to receive new identification. Subsequently, in 2018, a pair of human rights complaints led to a court order allowing people under the age of 18 in Saskatchewan to apply changes to the gender field on their birth certificate. This led to the provincial government to allow for M and F designations to be removed from the document altogether.
The blank option on SGI identification documents will be available for customers of any age upon request. No supporting documentation is required to remove an existing sex designation, and there is no charge for changing the sex on a driver’s licence or photo identification. However, SGI noted that these accommodations for people with diverse gender expressions have not been adopted by all organizations, businesses, and government agencies. Consequently, SGI is unable to guarantee that a Saskatchewan licence or ID with the unspecified or blank sex designation will be accepted by other organizations in Canada or around the world. Customers who make requests regarding this will be informed of these considerations at the time of request. Requests to have licence or photo ID documents updated to a blank sex designation can be made for free at any licence issuer in the province.
The decision has received mixed responses from the gender-diverse people of the province. Morgan Moats, chair of UR Pride in Regina, is among those who plan to update their driver’s licence as soon as they can. Moats feels that a blank space is safer than the previously used X, because it essentially implies that there is no need for the sex of the individual to be brought into the conversation at all.
For some others who had to fight an uphill battle to have the sex designation changed on their ID document, the idea of now taking it out completely is complicated. Miki Mappin, who had her ID document updated to state F in the sex field, feels that such a document often helps provide validation in the face of naysayers. They also expressed the hope that over time, the sex designation will be removed altogether from ID documents.