Ontario filmmaker applies for first non-binary birth certificate
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.”
Joshua M. Ferguson, left, and husband Florian Halbedl. Ferguson identifies as neither male nor female.