5.27.2015

Why I Won't Change the Gender Marker on my Birth Certificate

One of the reasons I filed a human rights complaint was because government agencies kept insisting that I change my birth certificate in order to prove my identity and validate my gender. One of the most ridiculous examples is from Passport Canada who can't decide what exactly a passport document is for: confirming and validating citizenship or validating identity. 

The thought of having to change my birth record makes me both angry and uncomfortable. I don't think messing around with history is a good idea because the outcome is never good. I haven't found a reason to change my birth certificate that makes sense for me and I've listed some of the reasons I chose NOT to change the gender marker on my birth certificate below:

  1. My mother gave birth to a biologically female baby. This is a fact. It is historically accurate. At the time and to the best of everyone's knowledge, this was the truth. Changing the marker on my birth certificate now will not ever change the events that occured on the day of my birth.

  2. I feel like I would be insulting my mother if I changed my birth record. I can't articulate exactly why I feel like this but I feel like changing my birth certificate invalidates her in some way, that it ignores and disrespects her experience of the day she gave birth. I do not want to alter her memory of the past or attempt to rewrite the truth of #1.

  3. Rewriting my birth record makes me invisible. Changing my birth certificate to say that I was born male, eliminates the "official" record that I was ever female. Rewriting the paper trail to be consistent (and to make the government more comfortable) feels like another way to make trans people "disappear".

  4. Changing my birth certificate won't change history. Even if my birth record was changed to say male, it wouldn't change my story. A new birth certificate wouldn't suddenly make me a boy in all my childhood photos, it won't eliminate or erase all the struggles and problems I endured. Changing my birth certificate erases the truth: I was born a girl. Asking me to change my birth certificate because I'm transexual is as ridiculous as asking a Chinese person to change their ethnicity once they become a Canadian citizen.

  5. Identification should reflect the truth about a person in its entirety and that should be respected. So my birth certificate doesn't match my driver's licence. Big deal. Ask me why. I'll tell you it's because I'm trans. Being afraid that I have somehow manipulated the system to perpetuate identity fraud is ridiculous because I just told you the reason the gender markers don't match is because I'm trans. Trust that I am telling you the truth just like that new bride in the next booth who is trying to explain why the name on her birth certificate and the name on her driver's license don't match....

  6. No one ever really expects to see your birth certificate. You don't whip it out at parties, cops don't ask to see it if you are pulled over at a check stop. The only time you REALLY need a birth certificate for anything is to prove where you were born and when. The gender you are assigned at birth really doesn'e matter when you think about it. Seriously, how different would our lives be if birth certificates just didn't have a gender marker?
Not everyone wants to keep their birth record unchanged. I wonder though, how many people would still change it if it wasn't required? Would you?



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