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Student to petition NS government about sex designation

King’s student Jessica Durling has started a petition to ask the Nova Scotia government to change the regulations surrounding the change of sex designation on birth certificates of transgender people.

Asher Goldstein signs Jessica Durling’s petition. (Photo: Evan McIntyre)

King’s student Jessica Durling has started a petition to ask the Nova Scotia government to change the regulations surrounding the change of sex designation on birth certificates of transgender people.
Current Nova Scotia regulations require that a person undergo sex reassignment surgery (SRS) in order to have their sex changed on their birth certificate and other legal documents.
Durling, a first year journalism student and co-president of the King’s P.R.I.D.E society says that such regulations are discriminatory, as not all transgender people wish to undergo surgery, or are able to due to their medical history.
“Several people seem to share the concern that the current setup for the provincial government for changing the sex designation on your birth certificate is very flawed and in some people’s cases discriminatory, and it should be changed,” says Durling.
Durling explains that the current restrictions affect transgender people in their daily lives.
“It says something you aren’t right there blatantly on your ID,” says Durling. “What’s your ID used for? It’s for buying cigarettes, for if you get pulled over for speeding… (new regulations will make) it easier so you’re not discriminated against by changing it. There isn’t any flaw to it.”
In 2012, the guidelines in Ontario were changed, allowing transgender people to have their sex designation changed without undergoing SRS. The guidelines proposed in the petition are based roughly on the new Ontario regulations.
Durling is working with P.R.I.D.E to spread the word and gain signatures. In November, she brought the petition to P.R.I.D.E’s annual screening of The Rocky Horror Picture Show, and gained around 100 signatures.
The petition has now accumulated over 200 signatures, and Durling says that she is working on finding ways to gain more signatures and awareness, including bringing the petition to various human rights rallies.
“It’s a King’s thing, but we’re going to see how far we can expand it,” says Durling.
Durling says that she hopes the petition will amass between 1,000 and 2,000 signatures. She plans to send the petition to the Nova Scotia Department of Justice.
While the petition is a work in progress, Durling says she hopes to send in the petition by the end of this academic year.
Emma Kenny, a second year King’s student, supports Durling’s efforts, and plans to help spread the word.
“I think it’s really important that all people are given the freedom to self identify,” Kenny explains.
Kenny wants the process of changing one’s sex designation to be made easier in order to create a “community where trans* people are accepted and trans* people can feel comfortable.”
Kenny says that it is unfair that people are required to carry identification that doesn’t match their identity.
“I can’t even imagine how uncomfortable and how horrible that would feel,” says Kenny.
While Durling started the petition, she says that it is an initiative that involves the entire P.R.I.D.E society.
“As a society we’re just working together to try to make a place for everyone to be equal,” says Durling. “It’s our job as human beings to help each other out.”

By David J. Shuman

David is a second-year journalism student at King's, is engagement/news editor of The Watch, and a copy editor of The Pigeon. He writes on student politics, campus happenings, and school news. 

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