TORONTO - People who live as the opposite sex in Ontario can now change their gender on their birth certificates without first undergoing sex-change surgery.

New rules that have recently come into effect allow transgender people born in the province to apply to have the document amended by submitting a letter from a practising physician or a psychologist.

Susan Gapka, chair of the Trans Lobby Group, hailed the change as a crucial step for the transgender community in having their gender identity recognized.

"We're going to celebrate this victory — because it is a victory, it's a giant leap forward," she said.

"Trans people's identification will more easily match their presentation to the public."

Ontario is the first province in Canada to scrap the requirement.

It stems from a ruling by the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario this April in the case of a born-male woman known as XY.

The tribunal found the legislation requiring proof of "transsexual surgery" to alter birth documents to be discriminatory.

In its ruling, the tribunal said the requirement added to the stigma felt by members of the transgender community and reinforced stereotypes surrounding how they experience gender.

Gapka said the birth-certificate change is the latest success for the community, which in June saw its legal status clarified with an amendment to the Ontario Human Rights Code that extended protections to transgender people.

After years of legal ambiguity or outright denial of their rights, transgender people are being recognized like other minority communities, Gapka said.

"Finally trans people are gaining access to their legal rights...we're catching up to other disadvantaged groups," she said.

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  • Jenna Talackova

    Transgendered beauty queen Jenna Talackova reacts as she makes the top 20 cut in the Miss Universe Canada pageant in Toronto on Saturday May 19, 2012. Talackova sparked global attention when she was initially disqualified from the pageant. (AP Photo/The Canadian Press, Chris Young)

  • Jenna Talackova

    Transgendered beauty queen Jenna Talackova watches a fellow contestant take to the stage in the Miss Universe Canada pageant in Toronto on Saturday May 19, 2012. Talackova sparked global attention when she was initially disqualified from the pageant. (AP Photo/The Canadian Press, Chris Young)

  • Jenna Talackova

    Transgendered beauty queen Jenna Talackova, center, appears in the Miss Universe Canada pageant in Toronto on Saturday May 19, 2012. Talackova sparked global attention when she was initially disqualified from the pageant. (AP Photo/The Canadian Press, Chris Young)

  • Jenna Talackova

    Transgendered beauty queen Jenna Talackova reacts as she makes the top 20 cut in the Miss Universe Canada pageant in Toronto on Saturday May 19, 2012. Talackova sparked global attention when she was initially disqualified from the pageant. (AP Photo/The Canadian Press, Chris Young)

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  • THE CANADIAN PRESS/Aaron Vincent Elkaim

  • THE CANADIAN PRESS/Aaron Vincent Elkaim

  • THE CANADIAN PRESS/Aaron Vincent Elkaim

  • THE CANADIAN PRESS/Aaron Vincent Elkaim

  • Jenna Talackova, the first transgender Miss Universe Canada contestant, is seen during a photo shoot at the Sandman Signature Hotel in Toronto on Saturday, May 12, 2012, in advance of the Miss Universe Canada pageant. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Aaron Vincent Elkaim

  • (Alex Urosevic/iPhotoLive.com)

  • 62 finalists for Miss Universe Canada pose for a photo in advance of the pageant. (Alex Urosevic/iPhotoLive.com)

  • Jenna Talackova, the first transgender Miss Universe Canada contestant, poses during a photo shoot at the Sandman Signature Hotel in Toronto on Saturday, May 12, 2012 ahead the Miss Universe Canada pageant. Talackova, a Vancouver resident, underwent a sex change four years ago after being born a male. (AP Photo/The Canadian Press, Aaron Vincent Elkaim)

  • (Alex Urosevic/iPhotoLive.com)

  • (Alex Urosevic/iPhotoLive.com)

  • Vancouver's transgender Miss Universe Canada contestant Jenna Talackova arrives with fellow pageant contestants at St. John Vianney Catholic School in Toronto on Tuesday May 15, 2012.(AP Photo/The Canadian Press, Chris Young)

  • Jenna Talackova, the first transgender Miss Universe Canada contestant, is photographed with other contestants during a photo call at the Sandman Signature Hotel in Toronto on Saturday, May 12, 2012 ahead of the Miss Universe Canada pageant. Talackova, a Vancouver resident, underwent a sex change four years ago after being born a male. (AP Photo/The Canadian Press, Aaron Vincent Elkaim)

  • (AP Photo/The Canadian Press, Aaron Vincent Elkaim)

  • Jenna Talackova takes a picture with 11-year-old student Kadeen Drummond as Miss Universe Canada contestants visit St. John Vianney Catholic School in Toronto on Tuesday May 15, 2012. Talackova says she's proud to be opening the door for other transgender pageant hopefuls who may want to follow in her footsteps. Talackova ignited a media firestorm after she was initially disqualified from the pageant because she isn't a naturally born female. Pageant owner Donald Trump overruled the decision and said Talackova could take part. (AP Photo/The Canadian Press, Chris Young)

  • (AP Photo/The Canadian Press, Chris Young)

  • Vancouver's transgender Miss Universe Canada contestant Jenna Talackova gestures as Miss Universe Canada contestants visit St. John Vianney Catholic School in Toronto on Tuesday May 15, 2012. (AP Photo/The Canadian Press, Chris Young)

  • Jenna Talackova enjoys pool side at a Los Angeles hotel, April 2, 2012. (iPhotoLIve.com)

  • Jenna Talackova smiles at a press conference with her attorney Gloria Allred (not pictured) in Los Angeles on April 3, 2012 in California. Talackova was previously disqualified from Miss Universe Canada, she said, because she used to be male. (FREDERIC J. BROWN/AFP/Getty Images)

  • Jenna Talackova looks on at a press conference in Los Angeles as her attorney Gloria Allred displays Jenna's passport on April 3, 2012. (FREDERIC J. BROWN/AFP/Getty Images)

  • Jenna Talackova, who advanced to the finals of the Miss Canada competition, part of the Miss Universe contest, and was recently forced out of the competition, is listed in her passport as female (with other personal identifying information redacted) at a news conference in Los Angeles Tuesday, April 3, 2012. (AP Photo/Reed Saxon)

  • In this image released by ABC, beauty contestant Jenna Talackova, left, poses with ABC's Barbara Walters at an interview Thursday, April 5, 2012 in New York. (AP Photo/ABC, Heidi Gutman)