All Hands On Deck: The CAQ is pushing a disaster bill for trans, intersex, and nonbinary people

Bad news this week.

The CAQ (Quebec's provincial government, for my readers outside the province) is advancing Bill 2, "An Act respecting family law reform with regard to filiation and amending the Civil Code in relation to personality rights and civil status," which represents a brutal regression in human rights for Quebec's trans, intersex, and non-binary communities.

It's worth noting that this bill happening now strikes me as the conservative backlash against the Herculean work of trans, intersex, and nonbinary community organizers who have been fighting for trans rights for more than a decade here in the province, and who won significant gains in 2013, 2016, and even earlier this year:

Ce n’est qu’en 2013 que le législateur modifie la loi afin de permettre à une personne trans, en respect de l’autonomie de celle-ci, de changer la mention de sexe sans subir une intervention chirurgicale. D’autres ajustements ont suivi en 2016. (Source: La Presse — my translation: "It was not until 2013 that the legislator amended the law to allow a trans person, in respect of their autonomy, to change their gender designation without undergoing surgery. Other adjustments followed in 2016.")

It was in January of this year, thanks to the Centre for Gender Advocacy Centre's lawsuit against the Quebec government, that nonbinary people succeeded in obtaining the recognition of a third, neutral legal gender, the famous "X" that could be used instead of "F" and "M" on passports and other ID belonging to nonbinary people.

To read Bill 2, visit the following link to download the PDF document:

As Florence's tweet above notes, it's on page 13 of the PDF regarding changes to section 71 where the disturbing changes to the law really seem to begin (emphasis mine):

Article 71 of the Code is amended (1) by replacing the first and second paragraphs by the following paragraphs:
“A person who has undergone medical treatments and surgical operations involving a structural alteration of the person’s sexual organs and designed to permanently change that person’s apparent sexual characteristics may, if the conditions prescribed by this Code and by government regulation have been met, have the designation of sex appearing in their act of birth and, if necessary, their given names changed.
Furthermore, a person who has had a designation of gender identity added to their act of birth may, if the conditions prescribed by this Code and by government regulation have been met, have that designation changed or withdrawn and, if necessary, have their given names changed.”;

It doesn't stop there:

Article 71.1 of the Code is amended
(1) by inserting “or of gender identity” after “designation of sex” in the first paragraph;
(2) by replacing “the change of designation of sex” in the second paragraph by “such a change”.

If I understand what's going on — honestly it's unclear why they're doing this — it seems to me that the provincial government now wants to codify "gender" and "sex" separately on the documents of transgender, intersex, and non-binary people. The change would only allow people who have undergone major medical procedures to change their "sex" designation, but not change their "gender" designation.

On top of all this nonsense, further down in the document, there are changes targeting intersex people that I find problematic and disturbing:

(p. 13) 71.0.1. A person whose designation of sex appears in their act of birth as undetermined or, in the case of a minor, their tutor, must, as soon as it is possible to determine the person’s sex, apply for a change of designation of sex and, if necessary, for a change of the person’s given names. To obtain the change, the person must meet the conditions prescribed for such an application by this Code and those determined by government regulation.


(p.78) 247. An application for a change of the designation of sex that appears in a person’s act of birth must be accompanied by, in addition to the documents referred to in section 4, a certificate from the attending physician confirming that the medical treatments and surgical operations undergone by the applicant make it possible to conclude that there has been a structural alteration of the sexual organs which has permanently changed the applicant’s apparent sexual characteristics and a certificate by another physician practising in Québec attesting to the success of the treatments.

However, an application for a change of designation of sex of a person whose sex was undetermined at birth must be accompanied by a certificate from the attending physician confirming the determination of that person’s sex.

The issue of what intersex children are put through to "correct" the appearance of their genitals is a big issue around the world, and certainly in Quebec as well.

In addition, Quebec's transphobic and ableist medical system is simply buckling under the conditions imposed by the health crisis. The increase in medical barriers in the lives of trans, intersex, and nonbinary people is going to be a disaster.

Bill 2 takes us back to 1977, requiring trans people residing in Quebec to undergo extensive medical procedures (and even sterilizations) to obtain the right to legally transition. The legislation seems to want to enshrine the concept of "biological sex" — which, by the way, is not a scientific concept at all, and which is often used to attack trans, non-binary, and intersex people!

I am very concerned (and discouraged) by these measures. This bill just seems malicious to me.

Robert Leckey wrote in La Presse in February that the province of Quebec had finally acted to live up to its reputation as a champion of gender minority rights. Let's just say that's an article that hasn't aged well.

Help us:

You can write your comments to the Québec legislature directly by clicking here. Please don't remain silent, this is an all hands on deck situation.  

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Gersande La Flèche

Gersande La Flèche

By day I am a writing coach & freelance English-French translator. By night (or rather by dawn because I'm an early bird) I scribble away at poetry, prose, and essays in one of my many notebooks.
MTL // Tiohtià:ke