Name & Sex Designation Changes in Quebec
Unfortunately, the costs and legal standards for changing name and sex designation inhibit the ease with which trans people can change their legal status. Trans people cope with this difficulty in many ways. Because the criteria for changing name and sex designation is so varied from place to place, many trans people who don’t meet the criteria for name change in one region may choose to move to another area in order to make the change. Other trans people have fought legal battles to win the right to change their name or sex designation in the region in which they were born or are living. Still others decide or are forced to work outside of the legal arena.
The process of legally changing one’s name and sex designation is controlled by the Vital Statistics Department in each province and territory and so varies greatly. Québec in particular is different from other Canadian provinces. To figure out what information is relevant, keep the following in mind: In general, a person can change their name only in the province or territory in which they are living, and can change their sex designation (“M” to “F” or “F” to “M”) in the province or territory in which they were born.
If your client was not born in Canada, but they are a Canadian citizen who lives in Québec, they can change their name and/or sex designation in Québec, or their name only in any province in which they reside. If your client is not not a Canadian citizen, they can change their name in any province in which they are living, except for Québec.
General Requirements in Québec
Name changes and changes of sex designation for people living in Québec are processed by the provincial Department of Civil Status (Etat civil). The general requirements for a name change are a) Canadian citizenship, and b) at least twelve months of Québec residency.
The three main ways transsexual and gender variant people in Québec succeed when approaching the Department of Civil Status for a name change are as follows:
1. The five year rule – This is the path for a name change that is open to the general public. It is not specific to trans and gender-variant people. In order to access a change of name under this legislation, a person must prove that they have been using their name widely for at least five years.
Proof can include letters from an employer, school, community worker, doctor, family member, or friend. It can also include bills, receipts, ID, membership cards, or a lease in the person’s chosen name. Proof of at least two documents per year over five years must be provided. The more official the documentation one provides, the more likely the name change will be accepted.
Below is a sample letter in support of a name change from a community organization or clinic:To Whom it May Concern, I am writing on behalf of NAME OF ORGANIZATION, in support of the name change request of NAME OF PERSON. NAME is a transsexual WOMAN/MAN who is currently undergoing various aspects of social and medical transition. HIS/HER use of a MALE/FEMALE name is essential to HIS/HER well-being, as it corresponds to HIS/HER experience of living in the world as a WOMAN/MAN. Since DATE, NAME has regularly accessed our services at NAME OF ORGANIZATION, during which SHE/HE has consistently used the name NAME, and presented HIMSELF/HERSELF as a WOMAN/MAN. Furthermore, SHE/HE has been using this name with HER/HIS friends and for more than LENGTH OF TIME. As you may very well know, the fact that NAME`s legal identification (driver’s license, RAMQ card, etc.) does not correspond to HER/HIS gender/sex identity as a WOMAN/MAN is a source of discrimination, be it when attempting to access health care, or opening a bank account, to name a just a couple of examples. A change of name would greatly ease HER/HIS ability to access various services and basic needs, and would improve HER/HIS quality of life. For these reasons, we urge you to accept this request for a name change. Furthermore, we also request that NAME be exempt from publishing HIS/HER name change in a local newspaper. As SHE/HE is subject to discrimination as a transsexual WOMAN/MAN, it is a serious threat to HER/HIS safety, security and privacy to have to publish HER/HIS name change in a publicly accessible source. Thank you for your time and consideration. Sincerely, NAME
Name changes using this procedure will result in the person’s chosen name being added in front of their legal name on official documents. Legal/birth names will continue to appear on the birth certificate. However, forms of identification such as a health care card or driver’s license can be issued with only a person’s chosen name and family name appearing.
Pursuing a name change using the five year rule includes a publication requirement. The applicant must publish their request for a name change in the legal Gazette of Québec, at a cost of $75, and in the classified section of the local paper of their choice. The publication requirement can be waived, if reason exists for the person to believe that it would put them in danger.
2. Change of sex designation – If the applicant meets the requirements for a change of sex designation, they are automatically granted a name change. In order to meet the requirements in Québec, a female-to-male transsexual needs to have taken hormones and had a hysterectomy. A male-to-female transsexual has to have taken hormones and undergone a vaginoplasty.
Contrary to the “five year rule” (described above), a name changed in this manner will replace previous names. There is no publication requirement for this method.
3. Transsexual-specific method – As of 2006, the Department of Civil Status implemented criteria for name change that is specific to transsexuals. Under the new criteria, the person must provide the following proof in order to obtain a change of name:
- a letter from a psychiatrist or psychologist attesting to their transsexuality (though this is the specific requirement according to Department of Civil Status, some have succeeded by using a letter from a family doctor or a sexologist instead);
- some proof of physical change towards the gender to which they are transitioning – this could include proof of hormone therapy or surgery, though in some cases a photograph showing gender presentation has been accepted; and =
- proof that they have used their chosen name for at least a year. This proof could include letters from an employer, school, community worker, doctor, family member, or friend. It could also include bills, receipts, a lease or other documents in their chosen name.
Regarding this method, the Department of Civil Status has stated that the individual’s chosen name will replace previous names on their birth certificate. However, some trans people have found that their chosen name was merely added to their other names.
The transsexual-specific method also includes a publication requirement. The applicant must publish their request for a name change in the legal Gazette of Québec, at a cost of $75, and in the classified section of the local paper of their choice, unless the person feels as if publishing their name change would put them in danger.
Where to get the forms
The first step in the name change process is to fill out the Application for preliminary analysis for a change of surname or given name and send it to the Department of Civil Status. There is no cost to submit this form. The form can be downloaded from their website at <http://www.etatcivil.gouv.qc.ca/publications/FO-12-04-request-preliminary-analysis-modification-surname-first-name.pdf>.
The form to access a sex-designation change on official documentation is not available online. You must either call or show up in person at the Department of Civil Status.
They can be reached directly at:
Elsewhere in Québec: 1.800.567.3900 (toll free)
After the Department of Civil Status has received the Preliminary Analysis form, they will send the guide and application form. The total costs for this second part of the process are approximately $300–$400.