05/17/2015 02:48 EDT | Updated 05/17/2016 05:59 EDT

Quebec makes strides toward more trans-inclusive policies

Montreal MNA Manon Massé says she has reason to be hopeful after sitting in on a provincial parliamentary commission looking into sex changes and civil status for transgender and transsexual people in Quebec, which just wrapped up its work.

Representatives from each of the four provincial parties sat on the commission. They were tasked with the responsibility of evaluating existing and potential new policies regarding the hoops trans people have to jump through to be recognized as their chosen gender.

Currently, a birth certificate for a man who lives as a woman has the letter M (for male) in the "sex" category, and an F (for female) for a woman living as a man.

Massé says this creates a constant source of unnecessary tension.

She said the province's Civil Code was modified in 2013 when Bill 35 was passed. The bill most notably stipulated that a person can get the sex on their birth certificate changed without having medical treatments or undergoing gender-reassignment surgery.

But, Massé says, there needs to be more done in the province to ensure this can actually happen. For example, many white-collar workers don't quite know how to manage files for trans people, she says.

The Committee on Institutions for the National Assembly held public hearings and consultations last week to better understand the needs of transgender and transsexual people.

Justice Minister Stéphanie Vallée, who is responsible for the dossier at the provincial level, has said she would like to move quickly on the matter.

International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia

May 17 is International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia, and the rainbow flag is flying at the National Assembly.

Even so, it's clear Quebec has some work to do to make LGBT people feel at home.

Nearly three-quarters of Quebecers say they have witnessed discrimination or have heard derogatory comments directed at LGBT people, according to a study carried out for Fondation Emergence by Léger Marketing.

Meanwhile, the same study found that it's becoming easier for allies to publicly proclaim their support for LGBT people.

Martine Roy of the Fondation Emergence says allies have a crucial role to play in fostering a more welcome province.

Quebec's commission for human and youth rights is calling on the province to "adopt regulatory measures to recognize the rights of trans people" protected under Quebec's charter of human rights and freedoms.

The commission is also asking the government to act quickly to help curb the bullying, threats and physical violence some LGBT youth face in school.