Ottawa announces gender-neutral passports

Ottawa announces gender-neutral passports

OTTAWA — Canadian activists lobbying for gender-neutral options on government documents say Ottawa has sent an important message in support of their cause by announcing the arrival of passports that allow people to opt out of declaring themselves as either male or female.

The federal government had long indicated that gender-neutral passports were on their way, but formally announced the move on Thursday. Canadians who don’t want to specify a male or female gender will now have the option to indicate their preference on passport application forms starting on August 31st.

Those who want to take advantage of the new rule will have to write an observation on their form saying they’d like to see their gender identified as “x” before new forms can be printed offering the neutral option alongside “m” and “f.”

Activists say the federal government’s move sends a clear message the provinces need to be more proactive in recognizing non-binary residents _ a term used to define someone who doesn’t identify as male or female.

They say the process of applying for gender-neutral passports will be complicated by the fact that many provinces still don’t offer gender-neutral forms of identification, adding they hope Thursday’s announcement will urge the provinces to follow suit.

Some provinces have begun recognizing gender-neutrality on official documents, though the practice is far from widespread.