Content Warning : Transphobia, mentions of suicide

We encourage you to prioritize your mental and emotional wellbeing as you choose how you want to engage with this statement

This statement is sent on behalf of the McGill Coalition Against Bill 2, Queer McGill, and the Union for Gender Empowerment.

On October 21st, 2021, 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, was introduced at the Quebec National Assembly and passed the introduction phase, moving to the second stage: referral for consultation. The bill is sponsored by Simon Jolin-Barrette, who is both the Minister of Justice and the Minister responsible for the fight against Homophobia and Transphobia. Sections of this bill are transphobic in that they create additional barriers to dignity for trans*, non-binary, intersex, and gender-diverse individuals. The introduction of this bill is in and of itself a violent act against these communities, and it will contribute to increased risk and violence going forward.

Bill 2 would add a “gender” category in addition to the existing “sex” category on birth certificates. This forces anyone whose gender identity differs from their assigned sex to out themself on legal identification documents, which is a clear affront to privacy and safety. In addition, as legal identification documents other than birth certificates in Quebec refer to ‘sex’ rather than ‘gender’, those whose gender identity does not match their assigned sex will be forced to use documents that do not match their lived gender. Section 247 of Bill 2 would require sex reassignment surgery to change the sex designation appearing on official documents, reversing the 2015 update to the Quebec civil code that has adllowed individuals to change their legal sex without sex reassignment surgery. Bill 2 would also impose a male or female sex designation on intersex newborns, which may increase the risk of surgical interventions performed on infants who are too young to consent to such procedures.

After much public backlash to the bill, Jolin-Barrette confirmed on November 9th, 2021 that the bill would be amended, notably striking the requirement of sex reassignment surgery to change the sex designation appearing on identification documents. Jolin-Barrette also stated that all parts of the bill deemed transphobic will be amended, but he refuses to clarify which parts of the bill he plans to amend or exactly what changes will be made. This has led to a significant loss of confidence in the Minister’s ability to exercise his duties as the Minister responsible for the fight against transphobia. Further, the bill has led many non-profits to expend time and resources responding to a crisis that was fully avoidable. While it is a testament to the hard work of advocacy groups that changes are being proposed, a great deal of damage has already been done by the bill’s introduction to the National Assembly.

Trans* people, including trans* members of the McGill community are often required to present identification that misgenders and deadnames them, which has become more and more common with the use of the vaccine passport. By creating more barriers to correcting the sex designation on official documents, this bill would subject more members of this community to the harm and potential danger that using a form of identification not matching their gender can inflict. One study done by the Trans PULSE project found that having “at least one legal identity document with a sex designation matching their lived gender” brought a 27% reduction in suicidal ideation and a 62% reduction in suicide attempts among trans* respondents.​​ If passed, this bill would create more barriers to correcting the sex designation on official documents, risking the lives of trans* people in Quebec.

The Students’ Society of McGill University wholeheartedly opposes the transphobic sections of this bill. While we recognize that a statement is not sufficient to address and remedy the harm of this bill, SSMU has an obligation to offer support and a space for advocacy for marginalized communities, both on campus and in the greater Montreal region. As such, SSMU, along with the Union for Gender Empowerment (UGE) and Queer McGill, call for:

  • McGill University to publicly condemn sections 23, 24, 26, 30, 33, 41, 42, 43, and 247 of Bill 2.
  • McGill University to provide resources to McGill community members who are affected by the bill.
  • A public apology from the Ministry of Justice
  • The resignation of Simon Jolin-Barrette from his role as Minister responsible for the fight against Homophobia and Transphobia
  • Financial compensation for community organizations responding to this crisis

Because the changes to this bill are not yet finalized, we urge our membership to take action and support trans* groups in fighting against the transphobic sections of this bill. As such, we urge our membership to take the following actions:

To oppose the bill:

We encourage all of our members and our friends in the wider Montreal and Quebec community to read and sign onto this petition addressed to the CAQ ending on November 18th.

To reach out to your MNA:

Complete this web form to send a message to your MNA:

The McGill Coalition Against Bill 2, Queer McGill, the Union for Gender Empowerment, and the SSMU recognize that this is a difficult time for trans* members of the McGill community. If you would benefit from support at this time, the following resources are available:

  • Trans Lifeline: 877-330-6366
  • Keep.meSAFE (24/7 access to licensed counsellors available to all McGill students.)
  • Peer Support Centre at McGill
  • 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
  • Interligne : 514-866-0103 (Toll-free/text messaging: 1-888-505-1010)
  • Project 10: 514-989-4585

En solidarité,
McGill Coalition Against Bill 2
Queer McGill
The Union for Gender Empowerment (UGE)
The Students’ Society of McGill University (SSMU)

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