Professor Samuel Singer is part of a historic victory for the rights of trans and non-binary people

Posted on Friday, March 5, 2021

Professor Samuel Singer served as a co-plaintiff in a human rights challenge that recently won a historic victory for the rights of trans and non-binary individuals.  Justice Gregory Moore of the Superior Court of Quebec ruled that several articles of the Civil Code of Quebec discriminate against trans and non-binary people, depriving them of their dignity and equality.

The constitutional challenge was filed in 2014 by the Centre for Gender Advocacy at Concordia University, and joined by Professor Singer and three other individuals as co-plaintiffs. The LGBT Family Coalition, Egale Human Rights Trust Canada, and Gender Creative Kids Canada were intervenors in the case.

The co-plaintiffs were successful on the majority of their claims. The decision invalidates the Civil Code’s Canadian citizenship requirement to change one’s name or sex in Quebec, as well as the requirement that people be designated as only either male or female. It also declared that trans parents have the right to change their parental designation on their children’s birth certificate and to be recognized as “parent” and not just “mother” or “father”.  The decision also struck the requirement for a medical evaluation for trans youth applying to change their legal sex, although it did not strike the ability of parents to object to a trans youth’s application for a change of name. The Court also did not strike down the requirement to always designate a sex at birth.

“The victories in this decision are the culmination of many years of advocacy in the courts, in the legislature, with policy makers, by community groups, and on the streets,” said Professor Singer, “We are grateful to our trans, non-binary, and intersex supporters and advocates, our allies, and our friends for their dedication to fighting for our rights.”

“This case would not be possible without the work of the Centre for Gender Advocacy, my partner Sarah Blumel, and fellow co-plaintiffs Jenna Jacobs and Eby Heller; Gabrielle Bouchard, who led the charge to launch this lawsuit; Dalia Tourki, who spearheaded the mobilization for the trial; the plaintiffs’ pro bono lawyers at IMK, Audrey Boctor and François Goyer; and the intervenors and their lawyers.”

Professor Singer is a long-time advocate for trans people, recently serving as the guest editor of a new special issue of the Canadian Journal of Law and Society, entitled On the Margins of Trans Legal Change, which reflects critically on recent trans law reforms and their limitations (click here to read the complete issue online).  The special issue includes his article arguing for an agile and pragmatic approach to trans rights, Trans Rights Are Not Just Human Rights: Legal Strategies for Trans Justice. Professor Singer’s research on trans competent lawyering also recently appeared in a chapter in LGBTQ2+ Law: Practice Issues and Analysis (edited by Joanna Radbord), which won the 2020 Hugh Lawford Award for Excellence in Legal Publishing.

Congratulations to Professor Singer on this important legal victory! The Common Law Section is continually proud of your efforts to amplify trans legal issues.

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