Canada eTA Requirement Comes Into Full Effect, With New Gender Neutral Option - 08 November 2016
Visitors to Canada who identify as neither male nor female will have the option of choosing 'other' when Canada's electronic Travel Authorization (eTA) requirement for visa-exempt visitors comes into full effect on Thursday, November 10.
Canada joins a select few countries now offering such an option to visitors. Australia offers passport options of male, female or X, while Nepal, New Zealand and a handful of other countries also offer options to individuals who identify as neither male nor female. Canada also has taken steps toward allowing people who have changed genders to switch the designation on their passports and other documents.
“Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) is committed to facilitating the issuance of identification with a sex designation that reflects a person’s gender identity,” an IRCC spokeswoman said.
The availability of gender neutral options on government forms has become a cause among lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) groups, both within Canada and internationally.
“Inaccurate documents serve only to discriminate and impose barriers upon people who are neither male nor female," stated Lambda Legal, a US not-for-profit group that promotes LGBT rights. “This small step of inclusiveness for visitors is yet another reason for Canada to implement a third gender marker on passports, an option currently under serious consideration."
Canada's Liberal government - and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau in particular - has been clear in its support for the LGBT community. Earlier this year, the Prime Minister raised the Pride flag over Parliament for the first time, and he has marched in numerous Pride parades across the country this year. Practical changes such as the addition of a gender neutral option on the eTA form could be followed by further government initiatives.