'X' marks the spot for gender

Nova Scotians who don't exclusively identify as male or female will have the option of choosing 'X' on their birth certificates under changes proposed by the province.

Proposed amendments to the Vital Statistics Act introduced Wednesday would also make the display of the sex field optional on birth certificates, and waive the $24.95 fee to change the sex indicator.

Another change would remove the requirement for anyone 16 or older to get a statement from a health professional to change the sex indicator on their birth certificate.

Service Nova Scotia Minister Geoff MacLellan said the changes are about making Nova Scotia more inclusive and are "the right thing to do."

"For us this was an easy one in terms of how we would make these changes," said MacLellan.

The minister said the changes are the result of broad consultations.

"We covered a number of groups who had specific interest, input, and very important feedback."

Nova Scotia would join Ontario, Newfoundland and Labrador, Alberta, Yukon and the Northwest Territories in offering 'X' as an option for gender identity.

Saskatchewan and Ontario have the option to not display the sex field on birth certificates, while the federal government uses 'X' on passports.

"The proposed changes take many important steps toward meeting the needs of Nova Scotians who do not wish to be identified by sex," Shae Morse, a non-binary teacher and community advocate, said in a government news release.

The minister said all of the changes are expected to take effect in January.

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