The column of Emilie Nicolas: the state in our pants

by time news

During the censuses, the State asks us for all kinds of personal information related to our social identities (mother tongue and languages ​​spoken, ethnic origin, religion, civil status, etc.) in order to better understand and therefore better serve the population. Governments do not, however, seek to put all of this information on our birth certificates, driver’s licenses and passports, which serve first to identify individuals and then determine each person’s legal status. For example, the mention of the date of birth makes it possible to distinguish each citizen and to determine whether a person is a minor or an adult, or his access to the Régie des rentes.

When official documents include more specific identity markers, it is usually to help officials organize systemic state discrimination. The official mention of the word ” coloured In a country like the United States was notably used to pilot segregation, as a register of Jewish people was necessary for the Holocaust in Europe. In Canada, the status of “Indian” is also used to establish a legal distinction between citizens. One can also suppose that a government which would like to indicate a handicap on the birth certificates of certain children would certainly be eugenic.

Likewise, it was imperative for the State to establish, on the basis of a summary genital examination of newborns, the categories “man” and “woman” when these corresponded to very rights and freedoms. distinct. The “F” designation excluded my great-grandmother from the right to vote. The same categorization prohibited my grandmother from opening a bank account without her husband’s permission and dictated the admissible grounds for divorce for her. The distinction between “madam” and “miss” also allowed the state to determine who, father or husband, could make decisions about her health on her behalf. My mother’s generation, for its part, saw the preconceived ideas about the natural roles associated with the “father” and “mother” categories slowly erode in family law.

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My generation lives in a world where the categories “male” and “female” have been removed from the legal definition of marriage. We have access to parental leave regardless of our gender identity, whether we are a biological parent or not. And if I am pregnant, I have the right (in theory!) To the same health services in gynecology and obstetrics, whether I identify as a woman, as a non-binary person or as a trans man. This obviously does not mean that men and women, fathers and mothers no longer exist. This is to say that these (important) social categories no longer correspond as much as before to distinct legal statutes over which the State must exercise formal control to enforce its law, and that is good.

Thanks to the struggles against State sexism, allow everyone to have the desired sex designation on their birth certificate, or to identify themselves as “father” “mother” or “parent”, no longer amends the fundamental rights of each individual or the authority of each parent. It is simply a matter of respecting the dignity and identity of each person. This is why the process should be simple, and why there is no, but really absolutely no, justification for the administrative burden and all the eligibility criteria that go with it.

With its Bill 2, the Government of Quebec suggests making the change of sex on the birth certificate conditional on genital surgery for trans people, which was no longer necessary since 2015 and which would make the jurisdiction of Quebec that the strictest on this issue in the whole country. These operations, it should be remembered, almost always, under current medical conditions, result in the sterilization of trans people. Those who want these operations must have access to them. Those who do not want it should never have to choose between their physical integrity and respect for their identity by the state.

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The CAQ also wishes to officially create a mention of “gender identity”, which can be superimposed on that of sex for trans and non-binary people and which will not exist for the cisgender majority – which amounts to explicitly identifying people. trans and non-binary on their official documents. The government also insists that any modification to the birth certificate be mentioned on the copies obtained, which contributes to forcing some form of exit from the closet each time it is used.

The bill ultimately aims to determine “as soon as possible” the sex of children registered as “undetermined” at birth. Pressure is therefore added for parents to subject so-called intersex children to medically unnecessary operations to bring them into one of the two anatomical standards deemed acceptable – operations often experienced as traumatic genital mutilation.

The question that arises is: why? Why does the state want to know who is trans, who is intersex, and to control the genitals and reproductive organs of these people? How is this anatomical information of existential importance to its officials? What are the legal implications?

I’ve never had to talk about what’s in my underwear with anyone to exist socially the way I want. Why shouldn’t this basic element of human dignity be accessible to all in the same way? Why, if not to better discriminate, as every time governments have wished to exercise particularly tight control over the social identities of their citizens through their official documents?

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