Trans Rights & Trans Lives in Montréal

By Kama La Mackerel

In December 2013, the Québec National Assembly adopted Bill 35 which modi ed Article 71 of the Québec civil code. These modi cations were progressive in so far as: a trans person seeking to change their name was no longer required to publicly publish their name change in the official Québec Gazette, or to publish their name change (along with their date of birth and their residential address!!) in a newspaper for two weeks. In addition, genital reassignment surgery was no longer required for trans individuals to change their gender markers on their official documents.

These modi cations, though progressive, also came with their own problems. First of all, the Québec government has yet to determine how to tangibly implement these changes. The initial proposed regulations stipulated that a person seeking to change their gender marker on an official document must (amongst others): prove that they have lived under the physical appearance of their gender identity on a daily basis for at least two years, present a letter from a certified medical professional that attests that they are trans, and have a third-party testify under oath that the person has been living under the physical appearance of their gender identity for at least two years.

Thankfully, there were public hearings regarding these regulations in May 2015. Based on the hearings, the commission proposed that the requirement to prove that one has been living under the appearance of a particular gender for at least two years be removed and that a letter from a health-care professional no longer be required, but that an adult who has known the trans person for at least six months must certify, under oath, that the trans person is actually serious (!) in their request. The commission also suggested that the government create structures to cater to the needs of trans youth and children, as well as trans migrants who are not covered under the present regulations. How the regulations will be amended and concretely implemented is yet to be determined: as of now, none of the gains from Bill 35 have been put in place.

In Montreal, a grassroots collective of trans activists organized Montréal’s first trans march in August 2014. The collective, “Euphorie dans le genre” (www. is also organizing a three day trans pride, including the trans march for August 2015. The resources section of School Schmool has other links and contacts to organizations and collectives doing trans advocacy and support work in the city.

Despite all the small advancements for the trans communities, it is still mourning and not celebration that permeates the lives and collective existence of trans individuals, particularly trans women of colour, and specifically Black and Latina trans women. Every year, a disproportionate number of trans women of colour are murdered, driven to suicide, incarcerated, and denied access to shelter and health-care. Racist and transmisogynist violence is very much present, even in a city like Montréal. The challenging question is: how is each one of us complicit with this violence and what are we willing to do to be critical of that complicity and challenge such violence?