STATEMENT ON APPEAL OF CENTRE FOR GENDER ADVOCACY COURT CASE
April 26, 2021
Content Warning: Discussions of transphobia and mental health
On March 5, 2021, the Attorney General of Quebec announced the government’s decision to appeal parts of the January 28 ruling on the Superior Court case Centre for Gender Advocacy vs. Attorney General of Quebec. The January court ruling, rendered by the Honourable Justice Gregory Moore, invalidated sections of the Civil Code of Quebec which were deemed to violate trans* people’s rights to dignity and equality. In doing so, the ruling ordered several changes to the Civil Code to validate the identities and lives of trans* individuals, including by allowing non-binary parents to be legally identified as “parent” rather than “mother” or “father,” allowing non-citizens to change their name and sex designation, and removing the requirement for youth aged 14 to 17 to have a letter of approval from a healthcare professional in order to change their legal sex designation.
This ruling was lauded as a landmark decision and a historic win for the legal rights of trans* people, especially trans* youth, who were granted more control over their lives and identities because of it. The Quebec Attorney General, however, is seeking to deny trans* youth of this self-control, by reversing one of Justice Moore’s conclusions. If granted, the appeal would restore the requirement that youth aged 14 to 17 who want to change their legal sex designation must have a letter from a professional, such as a psychologist, that declares that the change of designation is appropriate for the individual.
The SSMU Gender and Sexuality Advocacy Committee and SSMU Executive Committee strongly oppose this decision to appeal, and express our solidarity with trans* youth. This appeal is patronizing of trans* youth, as it implies that they are not capable of knowing their own gender identity, taking the decisions about their transitions out of their hands and into those of healthcare professionals.
While it may seem reasonable to some, the requirement for a letter from a professional would force trans* youth to legitimate their identities in ways that are often inaccessible and painful in order to attain gender-affirming healthcare. As stated by Queer McGill, “Gender-affirming healthcare has numerous barriers, and for many the process of obtaining a professional letter, such as from a psychologist, is dangerous and impossible to achieve.” Such a requirement would maintain the social and economic inaccessibility of services for trans* youth, especially trans* youth with disabilities and trans* youth of colour.
Changes to legal gender markers significantly help trans* youth’s mental health and facilitate their access to affirming healthcare without constantly outing themselves. Upholding the invalidations made by the Superior Court would therefore prevent unnecessary harm and damage to the wellbeing of trans* youth. This, in conjunction with the overall damage on the health of trans* people that will occur if the original invalidation of the transphobic aspects of the Civil Code does not stand, is why we support the statements of the Union for Gender Empowerment and Queer McGill to denounce the appeal, as well as the Centre for Gender Advocacy’s continued advocacy in this court case, in calling upon the Court of Appeal to uphold the original ruling of Justice Gregory Moore.
The SSMU Gender and Sexuality Committee
The SSMU Executive Committee
Here are some institutional mechanisms for reporting and disclosure within student associations and at McGill University:
- SSMU Equity Policy and SSMU Equity Commissioners
- McGill University Policy on Harassment and Discrimination Prohibited by Law
- SSMU Gendered and Sexual Violence Policy
- MCSS (Macdonald Campus Students’ Society) Equity Policy
- MCSS (Macdonald Campus Students’ Society) Equity Commissioner
- McGill University Policy Against Sexual Violence
Below is a list of mental health resources at McGill and in Montreal:
- Keep.meSAFE, 24/7 access to licensed counsellors available to all McGill students
- Peer Support Centre at McGill
- McGill Students’ Nightline
- Tel-Aide: 514-935-1101
- Crisis Text Line: Text ‘CONNECT’ to 686-868
- Suicide Action Montreal: 1-866-277-3553
- Centre for Gender Advocacy Peer Support Line: 514-848-2424 x7880
- Trans Lifeline: 877-330-6366
- Interligne: 514-866-0103 (Toll-free/text messaging: 1-888-505-1010)
- Project 10: 514-989-4585