New Gender Identity Option for Birth Certificates

Amendments to the Vital Statistics Act introduce X as an option for gender identity on the Nova Scotia birth certificate and make the display of the sex field optional.

“Introducing these changes to the birth certificate is another example of how Nova Scotia is recognizing and supporting all persons in their right to have their gender and identity recognized and respected,” said Service Nova Scotia Minister Geoff MacLellan. “Adding X to the birth certificate will allow people who don’t identify exclusively as male or female to more accurately reflect their gender identity.”

The fee to change the sex indicator on a birth certificate will be waived at the same time the changes come into effect. There will still be the option to have M or F on the birth certificate.

A child’s sex will still be recorded as M or F at the time of birth on the birth registration.

“The proposed changes take many important steps toward meeting the needs of Nova Scotians who do not wish to be identified by sex,” said Shae Morse, non-binary teacher and community advocate. “Providing Nova Scotians with additional options to identify themselves or their children removes a significant barrier facing the 2SLGBTQIA+ community. While there is work left to do to remove barriers for our community, passage of this legislation will truly be worth celebrating.”

X has been added as an option for gender identity in Ontario, Newfoundland and Labrador, Alberta, Yukon and the Northwest Territories. Saskatchewan and Ontario have the option to not display the sex field on the birth certificate. The federal government uses X on passports.

Additional amendments to the Vital Statistics Act that support a more inclusive birth certificate process include:
— removing the requirement for anyone 16 years of age and older to get a statement from a professional to change the sex indicator on their birth certificate
— providing Nova Scotia residents born outside the province with a means of getting documentation that reflects their gender identity

Prior to making these changes, broad consultation occurred with individuals from the 2SLGBTIQ+ community from across the province.

Other amendments to the Vital Statistics Act include:
— allowing all parents the same rights to register the birth of their child with any surname of their choice
— providing Nova Scotians with the most secure and cost- effective access to online birth, marriage and death certificates by creating the ability to restrict third party vendors selling these services online.

Mr. MacLellan also introduced amendments to the Change of Name Act. The changes will shorten the time a person born outside of Nova Scotia has to live in the province before they can legally change their name. The residency period is being reduced to three months from one year, which aligns with other jurisdictions.

All changes are expected to come into effect January 2019.