On­tario film­maker ap­plies for first non-bi­nary birth cer­tifi­cate

The Hamilton Spectator - - CANADA & WORLD - VIC­TO­RIA AHEARN

TORONTO — An On­tario-born film­maker who iden­ti­fies as nei­ther male nor fe­male says the prov­ince “is in a prime po­si­tion” to make non-bi­nary birth cer­tifi­cates hap­pen.

Joshua M. Ferguson, who wants to be re­ferred to by the gen­der-neu­tral pro­nouns “they/them/their,” ap­plied on Fri­day to have a change of sex des­ig­na­tion on their birth cer­tifi­cate from male to non-bi­nary — a term used to de­fine some­one who doesn’t iden­tify with ei­ther gen­der.

Cur­rently, On­tario of­fers gen­der-neu­tral op­tions for driv­ers’ li­cences and health cards but not for birth cer­tifi­cates.

“I am very op­ti­mistic,” Ferguson, who was born in Brant­ford and grew up in Na­pa­nee, Ont., said Mon­day in a phone in­ter­view.

“I think the prov­ince of On­tario is in a prime po­si­tion to make this hap­pen, based on the fact that the in­fra­struc­ture al­ready ex­ists that the pro­vin­cial govern­ment in­tro­duced with ‘X’ op­tions on driv­ers’ li­cences last year.”

The 34-year-old, who is also a writer and ac­tivist, sub­mit­ted a physi­cian let­ter along with the ap­pli­ca­tion to con­firm that the sex on their cur­rent birth cer­tifi­cate does not match their gen­der iden­tity. The ap­pli­ca­tion process could take up to six weeks.

“Their hu­man rights code ex­plic­itly cov­ers gen­der iden­tity and gen­der ex­pres­sion, so cur­rently my On­tario birth cer­tifi­cate, or the one I have now handed over back to them, dis­crim­i­nates against me as a non-bi­nary per­son,” said Ferguson, who lives in Van­cou­ver and di­rected and pro­duced the short film “Lim­ina.”

“So I’m hope­ful that within the next month or so that I will re­ceive a re­sponse from them say­ing that they have ap­proved my re­quest.”

Last month, ac­tivist Gemma Hickey ap­plied for a non-bi­nary birth cer­tifi­cate in New­found­land and Labrador, but no de­ci­sion has been an­nounced.

“I think it’s im­pos­si­ble to tell be­cause of pri­vacy laws if any­one has ap­plied for one in the past and gone pub­lic with it, but I’m the first per­son, I think we can say for sure, that has gone pub­lic with it in On­tario,” said Ferguson.

“Sig­nif­i­cant his­tory could be made for trans peo­ple, not only in Canada but around the world.”

BRIAN BEARD, THE CANA­DIAN PRESS

Joshua M. Ferguson, left, and hus­band Flo­rian Halbedl. Ferguson iden­ti­fies as nei­ther male nor fe­male.

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