Northwest Territories Introduces ‘X’ Gender Option on Driver’s Licenses


The government of Northwest Territories (GNWT) has added “X” as an option on driver’s licenses  and other identification card in an effort to add inclusivity and respect for transgender, two-spirit, intersex and non-binary residents.

The GNWT’s decision follows the federal government’s adoption of Bill C-16 in June 2017, which amended the Human Rights Act and added non-discrimination protections on the grounds of gender identity and gender expression. The Bill, which also implemented the gender-neutral X designation for Canadian passports, ratified the UN Human Rights Council’s 2011 recommendations to end sex-based discrimination. The change is in line with the GNWT’s Vital Statistics Act, as well as the International Civil Aviation Organization’s standards for identity documents.

The provinces of British Columbia and Ontario have already implemented similar changes in driver’s licenses and health cards. The GNWT was the first jurisdiction to offer a third gender identity option on birth certificates.

Although the change is welcomed by advocacy groups, it is unclear how driver’s licenses with the X designation will be received by states in the U.S. Similarly, critics have pointed out that the X designation may cause individuals to encounter additional scrutiny and degrading treatment when trying to enter countries where being LGBT is illegal, and have called for removal of mandatory sex-fields from all travel documents.

This blog post was written by a CCLA-PBSC RightsWatch student. Views expressed do not necessarily reflect the views of the CCLA or PBSC.