NEW YORK • Starting Thursday, Canadians will have a new way to identify their sex on passports and other government documents: "X" will join the options of male and female.
The decision to allow the third category, indicating an "unspecified" sex, is intended to protect the rights of Canadians to identify by the gender of their choice, the country's immigration department said.
Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Ahmed Hussen said that the designation was added to advance "equality for all Canadians regardless of gender identity or expression".
The move is part of a broader push to embrace non-traditional forms of gender expression.
In November, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau appointed a special adviser to coordinate government efforts to promote equality for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender individuals.
A law passed in June amended the Canadian Human Rights Act to include non-discrimination protections for gender identity and gender expression.
Canada is not alone. At least eight other countries offer a third option on national identification documents, according to Lambda Legal, a non-profit organisation that promotes the civil rights of lesbians, gay men, bisexuals and transgender people. The countries are Australia, Bangladesh, Germany, India, Malta, Nepal, New Zealand and Pakistan.
Last year, a judge in Oregon, United States, granted a petition allowing retired army sergeant Jamie Shupe of Portland to identify as neither sex and instead be classified as non-binary.
But in some countries, gender ambiguity remains a taboo. Two Singaporeans, one of whom is transgender, have been sentenced to one year in prison in the United Arab Emirates for allegedly wearing women's clothes in public. Cross-dressing, homosexuality and being a transgender person are crimes in the UAE.
The Sunday Times understands that the duo, freelance fashion photographer Muhammad Fadli Abdul Rahman, 26, and Nur Qistina Fitriah Ibrahim, 37, can file an appeal 15 days after the judgment.