Canada to allow gender-neutral passports

Canadian citizens who do not identify as male or female will soon be able to mark “X” on their passports and other identity documents, the government said Thursday.

From August 31, citizens will be able to add an “observation” to their passports stating their sex should be “identified as ‘X’, indicating it is unspecified,” the government said in a statement.

The move will help Canadians have documents that “better reflect their gender identity,” it said.

These interim measures will be in force until authorities are able to print an “X” on passports and other documents.

“By introducing an ‘X’ gender designation in our government-issued documents, we are taking an important step towards advancing equality for all Canadians regardless of gender identity or expression,” said immigration, refugees and citizenship minister Ahmed Hussen.

In June, Canada passed a law adding “gender identity and expression” alongside race, religion, age, sex and sexual orientation among prohibited grounds of discrimination under the Canadian Human Rights Act.

In 2009, Pakistan became one of the first countries in the world to legally recognise the third sex, allowing transgenders to obtain identity cards, while several have also run in elections. They number at least half a million people in the country, according to several studies.

In 2011, the Supreme Court of Pakistan had ruled in favour of allotting a separate column for transgenders in NICs and passports.

The other countries with the transgender category on passports are India, Nepal, Germany and New Zealand. Interestingly, United States (US) is not one of them.