VANCOUVER—While some activists laud B.C.’s move to ease the process of changing gender markers on provincial identification cards, others criticize the move as being political rather than evidence-based health-care policy, which they say could be harmful.
On Jan. 14, the B.C. government said transgender, two-spirit, and gender-diverse adults can now declare their own gender designations on their driver’s licence, BC Services Card, BCID and birth certificate without consent from a doctor or psychologist.
Grace Lore, B.C.’s parliamentary secretary for gender equity, said the change will reduce a “real barrier” that British Columbians faced when trying to change their ID documents.
“Each individual knows their own gender best,” Lore said in a statement. “I am proud that our government is recognizing this by taking landmark action.”
The move was lauded by activist groups such as Trans Care BC.
“By making this change to allow people to self-declare their gender on identity documents, the province is taking an important step in respecting the rights of two-spirit, transgender and gender-diverse people in B.C.,” Lorraine Grieves, Trans Care BC provincial program director, said in a statement.
But Aaron Kimberly, founder of the B.C.-based Gender Dysphoria Alliance (GDA), says this action hurts transgender people by minimizing their clinical and healthcare needs, and also opens the door for abuse by bad actors.
Kimberly, a transgender man and mental health nurse since 2008, says the new policy increases women’s safety and human rights concerns, as more biological men, with our without sex hormones or conversion surgeries, can legally enter women’s prisons, shelters, and change-rooms.
After B.C. announced the policy change, Women’s Space Vancouver and Canadian Women’s Sex-Based Rights voiced concerns on Twitter. Kimberly says it’s unfair that women’s rights groups are being forced to fight back against increasingly ideologically-driven transgender activism and politics.
“Putting women and children at risk in such ways is fuelling an understandable, but frightening, backlash on transsexual people such as myself,” Kimberly told The Epoch Times.
Kimberly points to California, which was the first U.S. state to adopt a self-ID gender law in 2019, where there’s a reported rise in men transferring to women’s prisons, including men convicted of violent sex crimes.
According to the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation, as of mid-2021 more than 260 male prisoners formally requested transfer to women’s facilities.
Canadian Women’s Sex-Based Rights says there are already five males claiming to be transgender in B.C.’s Fraser Valley Institution for Women. Kimberly expects that number to grow as a result of the province’s self-ID gender policy.
Both the B.C. ministries of health and gender equity did not respond to repeated requests to answer questions about these group’s concerns by press time.
The new policy follows B.C.’s move in 2018 to introduce “X” as a third, non-specific gender option for government identification.
The province’s gender equity office and the ministries of health and citizens’ services said in a statement that the change also follows the earlier removal of a requirement that applicants must have surgery before changing their birth certificates.
The B.C. government says adults must complete an application form to change their gender marker.
Youth between the ages of 12 and 19 must provide proof of support from a parent or guardian, while confirmation from a physician or psychologist is still required for children aged 11 and younger.
Concern for Children
Kimberly is part of a growing worldwide movement calling for a halt on healthcare practitioners that are affirming young transgender people’s feelings with drugs and surgery, with little assessment of other psychological issues.
Countries like Finland and Australia are issuing new treatment guidelines that emphasize psychotherapy as the first line of treatment for teens with gender dysphoria–a sense that their birth sex does not match their gender identity. In Sweden, gender clinics in the country have stopped prescribing puberty blockers and cross-sex hormones to individuals under age 18.
Despite more countries taking this cautious stance, Kimberly warns that Canada’s transgender healthcare system is “completely being co-opted and abused for political purposes.”
“We need nuanced laws and policies to safeguard all Canadians and live well together,” Kimberly says.