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Change of sex designation (or of gender marker)
A change of sex designation, in Quebec, is a procedure by which you can change the gender marker on your birth certificate, and subsequently, change all your other documents and IDs to reflect said change. This process also allows you to change your first and/or middle name(s). To keep this text short, “change of sex designation” includes first and middle name changes.
This page explains the process and the various requirements for the aforementioned procedure.
If you already previously changed your name and/or gender marker in another jurisdiction and wish for this change to be reflected in your Quebec documents or birth certificate, this page does not apply. Please check the International Gender Marker Changes page for more information.
If you are not sure what to do, you may pass by the Trans ID Clinic to ask any questions you may have! You may also email me your questions at celestetrianon (at/à) riseup.net.
Annotated guide for gender marker changes (in French only)
I also offer an annotated form, doubling as a visual guide, for gender marker changes. Feel free to consult this if you need to skip over my long textual explanations. However, this form hasn’t been translated into English yet, and only covers trans adults age 18+.
What is a gender marker or sex designation?
The short answer is that it’s a form of legal fiction, only existing in law
The whole concept behind gender markers can be thought of as an amalgamation of a “sex” marker and a “gender identity” marker. The Civil Code of Quebec states it clearly that the sex designation of a person designates said person’s sex at birth, or gender identity when it is different. The reason why we are here is Quebec Bill 2. This bill has initially planned separating these two, requiring genital surgery to modify a “sex” marker but permitting to change a “gender identity” marker without — but this would end up, if implemented, forcibly outing trans people and putting them in danger — a highly transphobic thing to do. That has, after outcry led the government to have to eventually define what a “sex designation” is, all while making sure the terminology is similar enough to not affect prior case law on discrimination given the context.
Requirements for a legal change of gender marker
A change of gender marker may be initiated, here in Quebec, for any person who needs it and who has lived in the province for at least a year. A person born in Quebec, but who is currently living in another jurisdiction where legal transitions are not permitted, may also change their gender marker here.
The requirements for a change of sex designation are similar to the ones for a name change performed alone, albeit with the reason being deemed to be the gender identity of the person in question. The person filling out the forms will need to declare under oath, in front of an authorized commissioner for oaths, that the form is filled to the best of their knowledge and that the requested gender marker corresponds best to their gender identity.
In practice, all gender marker change requests are done using the Directeur de l’état civil’s forms, which respond to the government’s requirements. These are enumerated notably in the Regulation respecting change of name and of other particulars of civil status.
if the person concerned by the change of sex designation is born outside of Quebec, the process will take much longer. In this case, an original birth certificate, either in French, bilingual or accompanied with a Quebec-certified certified translation, has to be included. In the event such a document is unavailable, the legal transition process becomes significantly harder. More information can be found at Inserting a Birth Certificate into the Quebec Registrar of Civil Status.
Most other requirements depend on the person in question’s age.
ID documents and proofs of address
The person requesting the change must provide documents proving who they are, where they current live, and the fact that they’ve lived in Quebec for at least a year.
A photocopy of a piece of ID delivered by a provincial, state or country-level government, such as a Quebec health insurance card, drivers’ license delivered in Quebec or elsewhere, non-drivers’ ID with photo delivered outside Quebec, a Canadian or foreign passport, a permanent resident card 0r any other document coming from IRCC, or an Indigenous status card will do the job as proof of identity. A RAMQ card delivered for a minor, containing “valid without signature” and/or “valid without photo” works too.
A witness to a gender marker change (required for applicants age 18+) will also have to provide a photocopy of a piece of ID.
As for proofs of address, one would have to be up to a month old, and the other has to date from at least a year ago. Usually, the government allows a certain margin of maneuver, and will accept a document up to 45 days old for a “new” proof.
Accepted proofs of address include a drivers’ license (if not used as ID), a bank statement or credit card statement, a paystub or other any analogous document, an Internet, cellphone or power bill, a home or automobile insurance certificate, an official receipt for medication, a school, college or university transcript, and any mail sent by the Quebec or Canadian governments. As a last resort, an apartment lease also works. If you have moved recently, do note that only the “new” proof requires your current address; your “old” proof can indicate any address located in the province.
Any adult wishing to get their gender marker change in Quebec must get their request countersigned by someone else, having known them for over a year. This person has to fill out a part of the required form, and declare under oath that the applicant understands the seriousness of the procedure.
The witness can be any person who has known you for one year, including someone related by blood or by adoption. This person has to be able to provide a photocopy of their ID; an undocumented person or someone without ID cannot act as witness. The only exceptions surround whoever receives your oath (e.g. a Commissioner for Oaths cannot administer an oath to themselves or someone too closely related to them).
Requirements specific to trans youth
Trans youth who wish to change their gender marker have to deal with stricter requirements. Notably, someone under 18 will have to provide a letter from a doctor, psychologist, sexologist or social worker attesting that the gender marker change is “appropriate” for them. Parents will have to fill out the forms for their children if they are under 14.
For more information, consult the “Change of sex designation — trans youth” page (TBA).
Other documents to attach
Depending on your civil status and whether you have kids or no, you might need to attach extra documents.
The following table will explain everything:
Si tu es parent toi-même, tu peux changer ta désignation parentale — c'est-à-dire la manière dont tu es reconnu.e sur le certificat de naissance de tes enfants — en même temps que la demande de changement de la mention du sexe. La désignation parentale peut être l'une de "mère", "père", ou "parent".
Aller sur la page sur la désignation parentale pour plus d'information.
Si tu as changé ton nom précédemment (pour des raisons autre qu'un mariage, et sans changer la mention du sexe en même temps), incluant par raison d'identité de genre, il faut que tu inclus une photocopie de tout jugement applicable (dont notamment un jugement sur l'adoption), certificat de changement de nom, et/ou certificat combiné de changement de nom et de la mention du sexe que tu as obtenu(s). Ne pas inclure les certificats, les documents nécessaire ne va pas être fatal à ta demande, mais risque ralentir le tout.
Si tu es marié.e hors Québec et n'as pas fait le processus d'insertion de ton mariage dans le registre d'état civil québécois, tu dois un document original (e.g. jugement, certificat de mariage, copie d'acte de mariage) attestant de ton mariage dans ta demande. Si ton époux.se est né.e hors Québec, le processus d'insertion du certificat de naissance dans le registre d'état civil québécois va devoir être répété. Ne pas apporter un tel document ne devrait pas être fatal envers ta demande de changement de la mention du sexe et/ou du nom, mais va faire en sorte à ce que ton nom et ta mention du sexe ne peuvent changer sur ton acte de mariage par le biais du Québec — et par extension, tu vas devoir demander le changement sur ton acte de mariage dans la jurisdiction où tu es marié.e.
Si tu es uni.e civilement avec ton époux.se, et que l'union civile avait eu lieu hors Québec, les mêmes étapes s'appliquent — compte tenu des adaptations nécessaires. Ne pas confondre avec une union de fait (ou common-law marriage), qui ne sont pas des unions civiles.
Si tu es divorcé.e ou ton dernier mariage a été annulé, il faut joindre une copie du certificat ou jugement de divorce ou de nullité avec la demande.
Si tu es veuf.ve et ton époux.se était décédé.e hors Québec, et que tu n'es pas remarié.e, un document original ou certifié conforme qui atteste du décès de celleui-ci va devoir être inclus dans la demande. Ceci serait surtout important si ton mariage a eu lieu au Québec. Si ton époux.se est décédé.e au Québec, aucun document additionnel ne va devoir être inclus.
Second and subsequent gender marker changes
Government requirements tighten up for second and subsequent changes of sex designation. Notably, you will have to pay $148, and will have to provide a letter from a health or social services professional (doctor, psychologist, sexologist, social worker) explaining the reasons behind this change. This requirement applies even in the case of a non-linear transition pathway (ex: F → M → X, ou F → M → F → X), and in some cases, for name changes performed alone — watch out, and make sure you’re certain before changing your gender marker and name for the first time! These requirements do not apply if you have previously changed your name alone.
You will need to attach a photocopy of any decision, judgment, or certificat concerning a previous name or gender marker change obtained under your name. An abandoned application doesn’t equal a refusal.
Technically, there is no limit to the number of times you can change your gender marker. However, the onerous nature of these requirements creates a de facto barrier.
Currently, there is a significant exception to this rule: someone who changed their gender marker before June 8, 2022, and who now wishes to change their gender marker for an “X”, won’t have to provide a letter and won’t have to pay the fee that usually applies. However, they will still have to provide a photocopy of any previous documents proving their change of name.
Filling out a change of sex designation application
To start off with a change of sex designation, you’ll need to access the forms on the Directeur de l’état civil’s website: https://etatcivil.gouv.qc.ca/en/forms-publications.html.
The forms are divided by the age of the person in question. This section will explain the process for a trans adult. For instructions on doing so for trans youth (age 17 or less), you may consult the “Change of sex designation — trans youth” page (TBA).
This section will reference the box numbers on the “Application to Change the Sex Designation of a Person Aged 18 or Over” form, version 20221201. To check the version of the form, look at the top right corner of the PDF file — it’s beside the big C. I’d recommend having such a form in front of you before reading what’s to come!
Pages 1 et 2: The application itself
Sections 1 and 2 of your change of sex designation application are simply for your personal information. This part is self-explanatory, but watch out for the following boxes:
- Boxes 2 & 3: you’ll need to put your name(s) as they appear before changing them. The “usual given name” refers to the “first” first name that appears on your birth certificate; it’s usually the same one that appears on your RAMQ card.
- Boxes 4 to 8: this address will be used by the Directeur de l’état civil (DEC) to communicate with you. You will receive your decision letter and change of sex designation certificate here. If you are moving soon, make sure to inform the DEC about this, notably by calling them, or by attaching an explanatory letter.
- Boxes 9, 10, and 11: only fill out the applicable boxes. If you only have a cell phone, fill box 10 only. If you not have a phone number, you can put a friend or family member’s phone number!
- Box 14: a civil union is different from a common-law union or registered partnership. If you are in a common-law union, tick “single”. If your previous marriage was annulled, you can tic, “divorced” or “former civil union spouse” depending on the case.
Section 3 concerns any previous name or sex designation changes. If you have already previously changed your names for reasons other than marriage, or have changed your gender marker, tick “yes” to the applicable boxes, and attach a photocopy of the applicable judgment or certificate.
Section 4 (Object of the application) is where things get fun! You have to first tick the requested gender marker. As for your first name and middle names, write those down.
- If you want to change your first name while keeping your middle name(s), make sure to transcribe your middle name(s) in box 36.
- If you want to change your middle name(s), but not your first name, make sure to transcribe your first name in box 35.
- If you don’t want a middle name anymore, I suggest putting a line across box 36 to indicate that clearly.
It always is better to be clear than to receive a wrong change of name or sex designation application. As such, if you make a mistake in this section, I’d suggest that you fill out the page from the beginning again — avoid using White-Out, correction tape, or scratching out boxes 34 thru 36.
Section 5 (Reasons and affidavit) must be filled out by a Commissioner for Oaths. The easiest way to find one is through the Trans ID Clinic, that offers this on-the-spot free of charge. Otherwise, the Ministry of Justice offers a registry of Commissioners for Oaths — albeit without any guarantee as to transinclusiveness! I am intending on eventually setting up a registry of trans-friendly commissioner for oaths; more info to come.
Section 6 (Method of payment) can be kept empty in most cases. If this isn’t your first gender marker change, and you’re not exempted by the temporary measure concerning non-binary people, you need to pay $148. You may also need additional change of sex designation certificates for nay given reason: for example, with the Canada Revenue Agency, if you have previously changed your last name, and in many other cases depending on your birthplace. Each additional certificate costs $12. If you need to pay, add up the sum, and fill out box 47 or 48. Do note that a friend or family member can pay for you or on your behalf!
Page 3: Appendix — Information on the Applicant’s Children
If you have children, whether biological or adopted, you’ll need to fill out this appendix.
You’ll be asked, “Do you want to change to the act of birth of your child so that your designation as father, mother or parent corresponds to the change of your sex designation?”. This refers to a change of parental designation — which is how you’re referred to on your children’s birth certificate(s). More information is available at the “Changement de désignation parentale” page (French only for now).
Page 4: Appendix — Affidavit of a Person Who Knows the Applicant
This appendix is mandatory.
Here, your witness — the person who has known you for at least a year — will need to fill out their own information, and declare under oath that they recognize the seriousness of your change of sex designation application.
Watch out — your witness needs to fill out their information in section 3, and not section 1. Sections 1 and 2 are for the applicant (person changing their gender marker)’s information. In the event that both you and your witness are changing gender markers and/or names at the same time, fill out your information before the requested change on the appendix.
Page 5: Appendix — List of documents to include
This appendix is mandatory.
Here, you’ll just need to tick any applicable boxes for your change of sex designation application, and attach the applicable documents. All applications must be accompanied with “documents concerning the applicant’s identity”, a photocopy of your witness’ ID, and the mandatory appendices. Other documents need to be attached on a case-by-case basis, but have all been mentioned on this page.
Sending your application
Change of sex designation applications may only be processed by mail. Previously, in-person was also a possibility (in Montreal and Quebec City), but no longer is the case since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic.
After putting everything in one envelope, you may write the following address on top:
Service des modifications aux actes et des célébrants
Directeur de l’état civil
2535 boul. Laurier
Québec, QC G1V 5C6
If you have stamps, you may send it all from a Canada Post drop-off point. Alternatively, you may go to a post office to send everything off. Fees depend on the number of sheets of paper you’ll need, but usually would be around $2.23.
After sending your application
This part of the website is undergoing construction. More information to come!