NWT residents may soon be able to remove the gender field from their birth certificates and register up to four birth parents if new proposed changes to territorial legislation are passed.

The GNWT announced on Sept. 1 it is seeking public feedback on changes to its Vital Statistics Act and Change of Name Act. These revisions are intended to bring these two acts in line with the federal Human Rights Act, and to “make them more inclusive.”

Among the proposed changes are a provision that would allow residents who were born in the NWT to remove the gender on their birth certificate. Coupled with this is a proposal to offer change of gender certificates to residents who were born outside the territory.

Another proposal would allow residents to register up to four birth parents on a birth registration statement and birth certificate. As the announcement from the GNWT explains, this would accommodate situations where more than two parents may be considered birth parents, such as sperm donation or surrogacy.

The announcement also indicates that the territory would “correct (the) legal authority” in cases where minors apply to have their gender changed on official documents. As a document elaborating on the proposals explains, this would allow any residents who are ages 16 to 18 to change the gender on their birth certificates without the consent of a guardian. Currently, those in this age category have to be living independently to make this change.

Proposed amendments to the Change of Name Act include the addition of fingerprinting and criminal record check requirements for those 12 and older, a law banning those on the national Sex Offender Registry from changing their names and a provision allowing residents to revert to their birth names under any circumstances.

The proposed amendments come five years after changes were made to the Vital Statistics Act based on both the Truth and Reconciliation Commission and the NWT Official Languages Commissioner. These included the addition of a “Gender X” option on official documentation for those who identify as transgender or non-binary.

Residents have until Oct. 3 to submit their feedback on the proposed changes.

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