Canadian Trans Boy Wins Landmark Ruling for Gender Recognition

Wren Kauffman, a 12-year-old trans boy, is at the center of a historic decision after filing a complaint with the Alberta Human Rights Commission.

BY Mitch Kellaway

June 17 2014 7:12 PM ET

Wren Kaufman, left, with his sister

In a groundbreaking ruling, the Canadian province of Alberta ruled that requiring gender reassignment surgery before amending the sex listed on a birth certificate violates the rights of transgender citizens. This echoes an April statement made by Premier David Hancock, who said the surgery requirement will be dropped, according to the Canadian Press.

The decision followed a human rights complaint filed by Wren Kauffman, a 12-year-old transgender boy. Though listed as “female” at birth, Kaufmann, who identifies as male, said this was “stressful.”

"If you’re not yourself, then it kind of gets sad and depressing," Kauffman told the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation last year. "I’m glad that I told everybody." 

Earlier this year, Kauffman and his parents filed a complaint with the Alberta Human Rights Commission after encountering a law that required gender-affirming surgery prior to amending one’s birth certificate. This requirement, common throughout Canadian provinces, effectively barred those under the age of 18 from changing their birth certificates, in addition to all transgender citizens who do not desire such surgeries.

On Sunday, Edmonton’s mayor hosted a Pride event where Alberta’s cultural minister Heather Klimchuk presented Kauffman with his new birth certificate, now marked with an “M.”

Some have heralded the news as a step that could catalyze further change across Canada. “Hopefully, Wren’s victory will help pave the way” for citizens in British Columbia, Saskatchewan, and Manitoba, who have filed similar human rights violation complaints that are currently awaiting deposition, wrote Jean Ann Esselink at The New Civil Rights Movement.

Ontario is currently the only Canadian province that allows transgender citizens to change the gender listed on their birth certificates by providing a note from a doctor or psychologist attesting to a patient’s affirmed gender identity.

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