Canada: Those travelling with gender-neutral passports could face problems abroad

Starting August 31, Canadians will be able to choose to have a gender-unspecified “X” designation on their passport, instead of just “M” for male or “F” for female. Although the gender-neutral passport is welcomed by many, people choosing to travel with an “X” under their name might face difficulty when attempting to enter certain countries, according to an immigration lawyer. 

Adrienne Smith, a Toronto immigration lawyer who specializes in transgender legal issues, says she’s “thrilled” about the option to have a gender-neutral passport.

“I think the benefit of the X designation is that it really shows that people should have choice in identifying their gender. Some applicants won’t identify as male or female, they identify as nonbinary, or they simply don’t want to flag their gender in their passport,” she said.

But that doesn’t mean that other countries will accept their choice. “Any foreign country has the right to refuse entry to any visitor,” she said. 

While the International Civil Aviation Organization, which sets guidelines on international passports, does permit an “X” sex designation, it’s up to individual countries to decide whether to let someone in.

“I’m really worried that in countries like Uganda and Jamaica, where being LGBT is illegal and there’s laws on the books that prosecute people for identifying as trans, that this could leave people open to arbitrary detention, it could leave them open to scrutiny at airports, degrading treatment,” said Smith. “There’s a whole host of actions that foreign law enforcement could take, I think, if you have an X on your passport.” Read more via Global News