Gender self-ID for children as young as 12 passed into law by British Columbia

"By law, those 12 and older do NOT need a doc or psychologist in order to change their gender marker AND, by request, people can get a birth certificate without a gender marker on it. Also - protect trans kids."

Mia Ashton Montreal QC

The British Columbia government unanimously passed an amendment to the province’s Vital Statistics Act Tuesday that allows gender self-identification for children as young as 12 years old.

Bill 15 was introduced on March 9 by NDP Minister for Health Adrian Dix and unanimously passed in the BC legislature on March 28. The law does two things: It allows children as young as 12 to change their legal sex on their birth certificate without the need for a doctor or mental health professional’s involvement, and it also allows residents of BC to be issued with a birth certificate that does not have a sex marker.

NDP Minister of State for Child Care Grace Lore, who is a former gender studies professor, announced the bill’s passing on Twitter. 

“By law, those 12 and older do NOT need a doc or psychologist in order to change their gender marker AND, by request, people can get a birth certificate without a gender marker on it. Also - protect trans kids,” tweeted Lore.

In a video posted on the day the bill was introduced, Lore explained that removing the need for a doctor or psychiatrist to be involved in the legal sex change process is necessary, even for those as young as 12, because “it is people not professionals who know their gender.”

This move comes as several European nations and numerous US states take steps in the other direction and tighten restrictions on child and adolescent sex changes.

England, Sweden, Finland, and Norway have all undertaken systematic reviews of the evidence for affirmation and medical intervention for minors who identify as the opposite sex and found it to be of extremely poor quality. Each nation has pivoted away from the affirmative model of care favoured in Canada and back to a more cautious psychotherapeutic approach to treating this vulnerable cohort of young people.

A legal sex change formally recognises a young person’s social transition, but numerous experts are raising the alarm about allowing children and adolescents still in a crucial stage of identity development to take such a dramatic step.

Dr. Hilary Cass, one of the UK’s leading pediatricians who is currently undertaking an independent review of England’s youth gender service said in her interim report that while social transition is often not thought of as an intervention, “it is important to view it as an active intervention because it may have significant effects on the child or young person in terms of their psychological functioning.”

“[I]t is important to acknowledge that it is not a neutral act, and better information is needed about outcomes,” Cass added.

Dr. Erica Anderson, a trans-identified male clinical psychologist with vast experience treating children and adolescents suffering from gender dysphoria, agrees.

The expert psychologist recently submitted an affidavit in support of the Wisconsin parents suing their school district after their daughter was allowed to socially transition without their knowledge or consent.

In the affidavit, Anderson states that “transitioning socially can also be psychologically hard to reverse for a child or adolescent,” and that in some cases, social transition is not in the best interests of the child.

The expert witness explains how social transition is a powerful psychotherapeutic intervention that “has the potential to increase the likelihood of persistence of gender incongruence.”

“No professional medical association that I am aware of recommends social transition of children and adolescents without a careful assessment and treatment plan,” said Anderson.


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