Transgender rights issue


A Saskatoon woman has filed a complaint with the Saskatchewan Human Rights Commission, saying she wants to be able to change the sex listed on one of her children's birth certificates.

Fran Forsberg says six-year-old Renn was born a male but has always identified as female.

She says her commission complaint is similar to one being fought in British Columbia by relatives of 10-year-old Harriette Cunningham, who was also born a boy but has transitioned to being a girl.

In that case, Harriette's grandmother Cathie Dickens also helped her start a letter-writing campaign asking politicians to have sex removed from birth certificates altogether.

Forsberg says the Vital Statistics Agency has refused to act on Renn's case.

Susan Antosh of eHealth Saskatchewan says any application for a change of sex on the birth certificate requires evidence of gender reassignment surgery or evidence of an error that was done at the registration of birth.

She says those are requirements that are in places as part of the provincial legislation which eHealth has to follow.

"A birth certificate is a primary identification document and sex is determined at the birth and it generally is based on physical attributes of the baby at birth," says Antosh.

"Generally, sex is biological and physiological characteristics. Gender is more a person's internal sense of self."

Forsberg, who has eight adopted children, two birth children and one "borrowed daughter," says when Renn showed clear signs that she was a transgender child the family allowed her to express herself.

"Renn had some self-destructive behaviours we noticed about two or three (years old). She didn't seem like a generally happy little human," she recalls.

"My older daughter noticed that she seemed to be lighter in spirit when she was around ... her clothes. When she dressed herself in those clothes she seemed a lot better."

She says once Renn was given the space to be a girl, the self-destructive behaviour stopped.

"Renn is a wonderful little human, got a good heart, loves to dance, loves to sing, loves to dress up and be pretty," Forsberg says.

She believes it's archaic to list sex on a birth certificate.

"We used to have to have our race in there, what do we need that for? Even what your father used to do for a living would be on it, that's no longer on there."

She says the designation on official identification causes the youngster problems.

"For Renn, it's things like registering her for school, getting a library card, presenting her health card at a doctor's office," says Forsberg. "People look at her and look at the card. I can't imagine being an adult or teenager and having to go through that. It's just unnecessary."

Forsberg acknowledges criticism she has received that Renn is too young to know what she wants but she disagrees. She says tackling the issue while she is young will help her daughter as she gets older and other transgender people now.

"When you get stopped for a traffic ticket and the officer is looking at the gender," Forsberg says. "Well, if you are presenting as a female and your gender says male there is going to be an issues."



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