Parents win landmark ruling for transgender Quebecers with right to change official documents

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1/29/21

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.

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