After months of controversy and public consultation, the National Assembly of Quebec adopted Bill 2 on June 7. The Bill was first introduced on Oct. 21, 2021 but was met with public outcry over components that were criticized as transphobic. At McGill, the opposition to Bill 2 was solidified with the formation of the McGill Coalition Against Bill 2 between the Students’ Society of McGill (SSMU), Queer McGill, and the Union for Gender Empowerment (UGE).
Bill 2 originally required proof of gender-affirming surgery in order to change one’s sex designation on official papers; if one could not or did not wish to undergo surgery, their only option was to have separate sex and gender categories on their documents. The updated version of the Bill dropped this requirement, but retained a heavily-criticized provision that allows children over 14 to object to a parent’s change of gender label. Additionally, the amended Bill 2 waives the fee for the first gender change made on official documents—though any additional changes still incur a cost of $144—and introduces the option of selecting “X” instead of “male” or “female” as a gender marker.
Kerry Yang, SSMU vice-president (VP) Student Affairs, and Val Mansy, SSMU VP External, acknowledge that the first version of the Bill was “a nightmare,” and that the amendments mark a welcome change. However, both executives expressed disappointment in some of the Bill’s unchanged sections.
“The Bill 2 reform comes from years of struggle by trans activists. Indeed, the government of Quebec had no choice [but] to conform itself to the Moore Judgment rendered in 2021,” Yang and Mansy wrote in a joint statement to The McGill Tribune.
Yang and Mansy further pointed to Minister of Justice Simon Jolin-Barrette refusing to accept the gender-neutral term “child” over “daughter” or “son” in the Quebec civil code as proof that progress is far from complete.
Grey Cooper, BA ’21, believes that the decision to amend Bill 2 was an appropriate response from the Coalition Avenir Quebec (CAQ), but that further changes, such as the inclusion of intersex individuals, should have been implemented.
“I think the Bill could have been altered more,” Cooper wrote in an email to the Tribune. “Overall the heavy medicalization of gender and sex markers reflects a lot of opinions that align more with the ‘trans exclusionary radical feminists’ than listening to trans and intersex people’s input.”
Beyond criticizing the content of the Bill, some, like Arwyn Regimbal, U1 Social Work and events coordinator at Queer McGill, take issue with the process through which the Bill was crafted. Regimbal primarily condemns how quickly the Bill was adopted despite the controversy and lack of consultation with the LGBTQIA+ community, considering how many members of the community are affected by it.
“There are still provisions in the Bill that are inappropriate, or could be harmful towards people,” Regimbal wrote to the Tribune. “While I welcome many of the changes, I refuse to applaud the government based on their handling of the issue [….] I want to highlight [that] the original Court decision that ordered them to change the Civil Code was deliberately interpreted in the worst way to actively harm our community.”
Regimbal, Yang, and Mansy all agree that McGill’s reaction to Bill 2 has been disappointing, but unsurprising considering the university’s minimalistic approach to accommodating non-binary and transgender students on campus. Regimbal believes that McGill needs to address the adoption of Bill 2 as they have not released a statement since the Bill was tabled.
“McGill refused to take a stand on Bill 2, despite many faculties and organisations doing so,” Regimbald wrote. “I also believe that significant changes need to be made to the Wellness Hub before trans people feel comfortable seeking medical care.”
Those seeking support can contact the McGill University Sexual Identity Centre (MUSIC), Queer McGill, the Union For Gender Empowerment (UGE), or the Trans Lifeline. Those seeking legal advice can contact the Legal Information Clinic.