Impacting the law

Our generation is in a tricky spot. The children of hippies, the rhetoric of our days is a confusing combination of “be-the-change” optimism and “what-good-could-I-do” gloom, with a sprinkle of anti- establishment frustration.
No wonder it’s disheartening when what attempts at change we do make meet the brick wall called bureaucracy. There aren’t enough youth conference t-shirts in all the world to soften that blow.
Take comfort! One King’s student is on her way to overcoming that hurdle. Earlier this year Jessica Durling collected hundreds of signatures in a petition urging the provincial government to change the Vital Statistics Act. The petition supports people’s right to change the sex on official identification documents although they may be unwilling or unable to undergo sex reassignment surgery.
While the legislation has yet to pass, Service Nova Scotia minister Mark Furey announced voting on the bill would happen in the spring.
“Gender identity has nothing to do with biology and has everything to do with experience,” he said in a ministerial statement Oct. 24. “Some people do not identify with any, or all, of the aspects of gender that are assigned to their biological sex.”
Durling was buoyed by Furey’s announcement.
“I’ve seen a lot of support for (the proposed amendment) at the house of assembly on Friday, which was good,” she said. “We’ll just have to wait and see on how it turns out.”
Durling said she had the most success collecting signatures at organized events, like the International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia. Durling spoke at the rally last year.
Her activist work has garnered her some accolades recently. The Nova Scotia Rainbow Action Project named her the “Rising Star” for 2014.
“I was honoured to get an award with amazing heroes, leaders and fellow activists from the Halifax and Nova Scotia community,” said Durling. Fellow award recipients included Scott Jones, who made headlines after he was the victim of a brutal stabbing that left him paralyzed, and Leighann Wichman, the late executive director of the Youth Project.
Despite her recent successes, Durling knows it isn’t over yet. The proposed change still has to make its way through the legislature. What’s the next challenge?
“We’ll just have to wait and see,” she said with a shrug.

By David J. Shuman

David is the current editor-in-chief of The Watch and writes on student issues and events. Find him on Twitter: @DavidJShuman

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