05/18/2016 08:05 EDT | Updated 05/19/2017 05:12 EDT

Ottawa To Loosen Rules For Transgender Canadians Wanting To Change SIN Sex Designation

A spokesman said the department doesn't know how many people ask for a change in the sex designation annually.


OTTAWA — The federal department charged with overseeing every social insurance number in the country says it is working to loosen rules to make it easier for transgender Canadians to change the sex designation on the record.

Employment and Social Development Canada says, among other things, social insurance number holders wouldn't need a new birth certificate to change the sex designation on their social insurance record.

Currently, someone who wants to make such a change has to provide a birth certificate or immigration document showing they have changed their sex designation from birth.

Christin Milloy argues that Employment and Social Development Canada doesn't need to collect sex designation information. (Photo: CP)

Since 2015, the department has allowed people to make the change in cases where a revised birth certificate isn't available.

That happened just as the department headed to mediation at the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal after failing to easily allow Christin Milloy to change the designation on her record to female.

Milloy has argued the department doesn't need to collect the information at all.

Should mediation fail, the tribunal could force the government to stop collecting the information altogether.

Unclear how many ask for change

A spokesman for the department says the sex designation is primarily used for gender-based analysis, "and not for determining eligibility for benefits.'' It is also used by provincial and federal agencies who use the social insurance registry, like the RCMP, student loan programs and the Canada Revenue Agency, to validate someone's identity.

A review of the system and talks with those agencies "revealed concerns over the complete removal of sex information'' from social insurance records, department spokesman Josh Bueckert said in an email.

Bueckert said the department doesn't know how many people ask for a change in the sex designation annually — those numbers aren't tracked.