Parents win landmark ruling for transgender Quebecers with right to change official documents
MONTREAL -- On their farm outside of Montreal, Eby and Jenna are just two parents raising a family.
But it's been a long process to get the courts to recognize one of them as exactly the kind of parent she is.
Jenna Jacobs is a transgender woman and finally won a long-fought battle to change her gender on a child's birth certificate, in a court decision that goes beyond parents' rights and will make it easier for trans people across the province to determine how their gender is listed on official documents.
"The [civil law] here in Québec would not put 'mother' on that birth certificate," Jacobs explained, about her first child's birth certificate.
The certificate listed her as a father. But for her second child, it listed her as the mother.
The first one never reflected reality, said Eby Heller, Jacobs's partner and a co-plaintiff in the case.
"Jenna is definitely a mum to our kids," said Heller. "She's always been a mum to our kids and a great mum to our kids."
In a decision Thursday, the court expanded trans and non-binary people's right to change gender markers on government documents, allowing them to do so on their children's birth certificates.
"This case sets a precedent that having identity documents that reflect one's gender identity is a human right," said lawyer Audrey Boctor.
"It's a fundamental part of the right to equality and the right to dignity."
The decision came after a six-year legal battle, and its implications are very broad, with the judge ordering several parts of Quebec's Civil Code changed.
It will not only allow parents to choose or change their designation on their kids' birth certificates, but allow them to avoid having one at all. Non-binary Quebecers can now choose not to have a gender marked on their documents.
Teens will be able to change their documents without getting a letter from a doctor, and immigrants won't have to wait years for Canadian citizenship to have their gender recognized.
"It sets a precedent saying non-binary folks, trans folks, trans migrants, trans youth have rights," said Heller.
Jacobs said it's "just another step" in a long progression.
"I'm so happy how far we've come in 10 years," she said.
The province has until Dec. 31, 2021 to comply with the judgment and rewrite those sections of the Code, unless it decides to appeal the decision.