In a long-awaited decision, the judge Gregory Moore last week struck down five articles of the Civil Code of Quebec that violated the right to dignity and equality of trans and non-binary people.
This is a big victory for IMK, which represented on a pro bono basis (like the four other big firms that represented stakeholders in the case) the Center for the fight against gender oppression, originally of this remedy.
“These are very important factual findings that can be used in other cases”, believes Me. Audrey Boctor, partner at IMK, who speaks of an “important precedent”.
Same story with Dalia Tourki, former spokesperson for the Center for Combating Gender Oppression, who discovered a passion for law while working on this file, and is now a law student at McGill University.
“It’s a judgment that reocnnears that the trans and non-binary population experiences a lot of violence and discrimination,” she opines. The six articles of the civil code that have been invalidated contribute to the exposure of these people to this violence and discrimination. It kind of perpetuates the economic disadvantages that these people experience. “
Me Audrey Boctor has been in the file since the beginning, in 2014. He is her former partner Mathieu Bouchard who piloted the file at the beginning, and she took it over in 2015 after her departure. She is assisted by her colleague Me Francois Goyer.
Now, non-citizens will have the right to change their name and gender, which they could not do before. Non-binary people will also be able to choose an “other” option on their official documents – details will be determined in the legislative reform that will come, specifies Me Boctor.
Trans parents who have made a transition after the birth of their child will have the right to change the parental designation on their child’s birth certificate from “mother” to “father”, or vice versa, and non-binary parents will be able to change the parental designation on their child’s birth certificate. choose the “parent” option.
And finally, young trans people will no longer be required to obtain a certificate from a health professional who confirms that their approach is justified.
“The main issue was to convince the judge that there is a link between the right to dignity, life and freedom of trans people, and the fact of obtaining identity documents that reflect their true gender identity, explains Me Goyer. It was not a foregone conclusion. The Attorney General of Quebec did not admit it, he did not see a causal link between these two factual questions … But the judge finally agreed with us on that. “
“And the factual findings in the judgment really reflect the vulnerable situation that trans and non-binary people experience, especially when they do not have identity documents that match their gender identity,” adds Me. Boctor.
Twelve witnesses and five experts testified during the trial which spanned two months, “so that the Court understands how difficult this situation is”, specifies the lawyer.
Depression, anxiety, and suicide rates are extremely high in trans people, she recalls.
“For us, (this decision) meant a lot, but never as much as for (our clients), how much it really impacts their lives,” insists his colleague, Me Goyer.
Because for trans and non-binary people, the simple fact that these options do not exist in civil status documents was to deny their existence outright, recalls Me Boctor.
The modification of these articles of the Civil Code thus represents much more than formalities in paperwork, imagine the two colleagues.
François Goyer gives as an example the reality of people who are not Canadian citizens, who could not change the mention of gender identity registered in the state registers.
“The first reaction we might have, when we don’t know the community, is: ‘how many trans non-citizens are there in Quebec?’ But the truth is that there are a lot of people who flee certain countries to come to North America, and to Quebec among others, because quite frankly, they are not being stoned in the street, here … We had a testimony in this regard! “
“It’s far from artificial and a figment of the imagination. There are really a large number of people who were affected by this rule, ”he adds.
Two requests from the Center for Combating Gender Oppression were not granted by the court.
“There is still the possibility for a parent to object to the change of name of his teenager, describes Me Boctor. There is still the fact of designating the sex of a baby within 30 days, after its birth … But what the decision says is that later, we will have the right to change this designation for a non-designation. binary. “
This is very problematic according to Dalia Tourki, especially for intersex babies, who are born with sexual and biological characteristics that do not fall within the traditional definition of “male” or “female”. According to her, this issue will absolutely have to be addressed.
A pro bono file
IMK, along with the other four firms defending interveners in this case – Davies Ward Philips & Vineberg, Narang & Associates, Norton Rose Fulbright and Juripop – took the case pro bono.
“I can’t speak for them, but I think it’s an aspect that can make us proud of the profession, that there have been so many pro bono hours,” says Me Boctor.
She says her office didn’t hesitate for a second when the Center for Combating Gender Oppression approached her.
“Everyone was of the opinion that these were important questions, which risked not being able to be discussed without pro bono support from the legal community,” she explains. The Center for the Fight against Gender Oppression is an entity of Concordia University, entirely funded by student contributions… Its mission is very much with us. “