Law 35 in Quebec

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Gabrielle Bouchard, Peer Support & Advocacy Program Coordinator at the Centre for Gender Advocacy

On April 17, 2013, the provincial government presented an omnibus bill to update the civil code. This presented the perfect opportunity to secure real trans rights in Quebec. Essentially, it is currently law that trans people be officially outed in public and in the press. Bill 35, proposed by the Parti Québecois and first introduced by the Liberals as Bill 70 in 2012, had a provision to change that. It included articles that would have removed the requirement for trans people to publish name and sex changes.

Up until now, a trans person wanting to legally change their name was required to take out a notice in the newspaper for two weeks, publishing their birth name, the name they have chosen for themselves, and their home address. That’s right—their home address. Furthermore, every gender marker change is published in the province’s official Gazette.

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Trans advocacy groups, mental health professionals, and allies thought it was time to go further and give trans people real rights. We presented at the Committee on Institutions, requesting three additions to Bill 35. WWe sought to remove three restrictions on who can file for gender-marker changes: the minimum age requirement, surgical and medical treatment requirements, and the requirement of Canadian citizenship. We were able to create a large consensus with tons of documentation. Even the psychiatric medical doctor of Quebec was on board, for crying out loud!

But it was not to be. This spring, the Liberal party filibustered the bill, and it does not look like the fall session will end well for Bill 35. Unbelievably, this is the very party that instituted Quebec’s plan to fight homophobia! But the Liberals have shown their true nature regarding trans issues. Putting small newspapers’ financial needs before the security of trans people, making analogies with pedophiles, wanting the public to make a decision on trans rights: these were all follies we had to endure during the commission, all hidden behind the pretense of wanting to be “thorough and well-informed.”

So what’s next for Bill 35, you ask? Even if there are some gains, it looks like some trans people will still be left behind. The removal of certain forced medical treatments is the most we expect to gain. Trans youth and migrant trans people’s rights will not be tackled. Those who are most vulnerable today will still be marginalized in tomorrow’s laws. There remains much work to be done to achieve human rights for all. The movement continues!

To support the campaign to amend Bill 35, visit gofundme.com/droits-trans-rights!

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