Government forms are getting updated to allow gender self-identification, as part of the province’s efforts to improve data quality for programs and services in B.C.
The change comes as the province sets new standards for gender and sex data, which is intended to clarify the difference between the two by providing alternative definitions, while also removing the need to disclose this information for services where such information doesn’t apply.
While gender information will no longer be required when applying for the Affordable Child Care Benefit, for example, applications for family services, online employment services and other government services will be updated.
Citizens’ Service Minister Lisa Beare said in a statement Thursday (May 11) that the change will allow services to be delivered in a more respectful way and increase equitability.
Gender and sex are two distinct concepts and are not interchangeable. Sex is a category used to classify people based on physical and physiological features – most often assigned at birth – and might not align with someone’s gender.
“Let’s be clear, when it comes to someone’s gender, government doesn’t know best. A responsive and inclusive government, like ours, understands that it’s important all British Columbians be able to self-identify in a way that best reflects who they are and what information they are comfortable sharing,” said Kelli Paddon, parliamentary secretary for gender equity.
The province said it engaged with Trans Care BC, as well as ethics and legal advisers. Input from B.C. university students and post-secondary groups was also considered.
In 2022, the provincial government removed the need for physician or psychologist confirmation for people older than 12 to change their gender-designation on government-issued IDs, in order to reduce barriers for two-spirit, transgenders, non-binary and gender-diverse British Columbians.