Feb. 21, 2019
Accurate ID key for personal dignity
Have you ever had the experience of showing someone your ID card, and being told, “Wow, that looks nothing like you?” For transgender people, not having accurate identification can be a major barrier in life.
Third-year University of Calgary law student Jay Moch can attest to the importance of having accurate ID, not just for accessing basic services, but as a matter of personal dignity. “I’m transgender myself, so I have a lot of personal experience going through name change and gender-marking change,” explained Moch.
Process is difficult and costly
At the time Moch applied to change his name and gender marker, there was little information on how to go through this process successfully, especially information specific to transgender individuals. “It’s really personal,” said Moch. “Living in a world that is not built for you is very difficult. It can be very scary and disheartening if you do something wrong on your forms and you get a rejection letter saying you can’t change your gender marker.” Not to mention, mistakes on forms can be costly, with the process setting applicants, including Moch, back at least $300.
The University of Calgary will be the latest law school in Canada to participate in the Trans ID Clinic program launched by Pro Bono Students Canada (PBSC). The program is headed up by Moch, president of OUTLaw, a student organization dedicated to promoting a positive atmosphere within the Faculty of Law for LGBTQIAA+ students. Clinics will provide free legal information and assistance with name change and gender marker change applications in a space that strives to be trans-positive, non-judgmental, anti-oppressive and inclusive.
Support from local law firm
PBSC has partnered with the Skipping Stone Foundation, a Calgary-based not-for-profit organization whose mission is to support and empower trans and gender diverse youth and their families in Alberta. The law student volunteers will be supported by eight advising lawyers at the Calgary office of Blake, Cassels & Graydon LLP (Blakes), led by Brendan MacArthur-Stevens, an associate at Blakes.
“The Trans ID Clinic is so important because having ID that correctly reflects one’s name and gender is fundamental. Many transgender people face barriers accessing basic services, and the clinic is intended to assist in alleviating some of those barriers,” explained MacArthur-Stevens.
Moch and the rest of OUTLaw are bolstered by the outpouring of support from the legal community and are thrilled to hear from service agencies in Alberta. Moch explained, “We’ve had several employees of Vital Statistics Office of Alberta reach out to offer their assistance. The whole province is really participating.”
The Trans ID Clinic has three events scheduled:
- February 26, 2019 at the Alex Community Health Centre
- March 21, 2019 at Mount Royal in the Pride Sector
- April 12, 2019 at the University of Calgary