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Non-binary Quebecer ends hunger strike to put 'X' marker on health cards

Non-binary Montrealer Alexe Frédéric Migneault, shown in Quebec City on Tuesday, Nov.21, 2023, is on day six of a hunger strike to pressure Quebec's public health insurance board to add a third gender option to its health cards.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jacques Boissinot Non-binary Montrealer Alexe Frédéric Migneault, shown in Quebec City on Tuesday, Nov.21, 2023, is on day six of a hunger strike to pressure Quebec's public health insurance board to add a third gender option to its health cards.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jacques Boissinot
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After 12 days on hunger strike, Alexe Frédéric Migneault feels they have won a round in their battle against Quebec's health insurance board (RAMQ) and is ending their fast.

Although their wish for health insurance cards to have a third gender option ("X") has not been granted, Migneault, who is non-binary and uses they/them pronouns, feels they have advanced the cause.

"Great strides have been made," wrote Alexe Frédéric Migneault on their Facebook page early Friday evening. "The organizations that represent me and I were able to meet high-level people. I don't think it was all in vain. We managed to draw their attention to the unreasonable delays that people like me have to endure, which is already an achievement."

Migneault believes that the "concrete problems" they encounter in the healthcare system have not received "the recognition they deserve, but at least non-binary people will have a new tool to help them."

They also expressed satisfaction with their role in non-binary people's fight for recognition and says they're now ready to pass the torch to someone else to keep the momentum going.

"I can't wait for our rights to be respected at home, at least as much as we've fought for them," their message reads.

On Nov. 20, they set up shop near the RAMQ offices in Quebec City on nothing but vegetable broth, water and a little hot chocolate.

But for anyone tempted to echoe this protest by fasting, Alexe Frédéric Migneault doesn't recommend it.

"But I wouldn't recommend it to anyone. It's painful, frustrating and not at all glamorous. It's hard to walk and function. It's dangerous," they wrote on Facebook Tuesday.

"It's painful and disabling," they added on Friday. "But at least it served a purpose, and I was able to calm my sense of powerlessness in the face of this maddening injustice."

This report by The Canadian Press was first published in French on Dec. 2, 2023.  

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