Library clinics help trans and two-spirit people navigate the name change process

Transgender and Two-Spirit people who want to legally change their name or gender marker often face a months-long process that can be difficult to navigate, says a library staff member in Halifax.

That’s why Zso, branch services manager at the Halifax Central Library, decided to hold free clinics at the library to give people advice on what forms they need and how to complete them. to fill. Zso uses a single noun and the pronoun they.

As a transgender person, Zso embarked on the process of changing her name during the pandemic and found the process complicated.

« It occurred to me that people with less access to a car or the funds to facilitate this process must have a much harder time, and I wanted to make it easier, » they told CBC. Radio. Nova Scotia Information Morning tuesday.

The Woodlawn Public Library in Dartmouth is hosting a clinic Tuesday night and Zso said there will be more clinics at library branches in 2023.

Participants are encouraged to bring documents, such as their birth certificate, proof of residency and immigration documents, and lawyers will be on hand to answer questions.

Zso’s conversation with Information morning host Portia Clark has been condensed and edited for clarity. You can listen to the full interview here:

Information Morning – N.S.7:14Clinic to help people understand how to legally change a name or gender indicator

For trans and Two-Spirit people, legally changing their name or gender tag can be a big step. But it’s not always easy to know exactly how to do it or even where to start. Check out a special clinic to help people manage the paperwork and the process.

I was just wondering about stepping into an agency like Access Nova Scotia and that’s your starting point on this journey, how daunting it must be.

Absolutely. In fact, the process has changed and now, instead of going to Access Nova Scotia, Nova Scotians are encouraged to go to Vital Statistics. However, unless it is an emergency, they would prefer that you navigate this process using the mail. So trying to find someone to ask questions, to sign the statutory declaration form, to get legal advice, even to navigate the application itself, is next to impossible right now.

What about even finding the form?

Some of the forms are available on the Nova Scotia website. Others have to be requested via email and for someone who is new to this process or unsure…that in itself is a hindrance.

And then do you need a lawyer to sign all this?

Yes, there is a statutory declaration form that accompanies all the different [applications] — and there are three requests someone can submit to have their name changed, their name and gender marker, or just their gender marker. This [declaration] form is required. You have to fill it out, and only certain people, like the notary public or a lawyer, can sign this form, and there’s usually a fee.

The Transgender Pride Flag flies outside the PEI Legislature. (Travis Kingdon/CBC)

So part of this clinic is actually having lawyers on site who know this particular process for this issue?

Absolutely. We were very fortunate in that our community partners at Dalhousie Legal Aid enthusiastically attended each of our sessions to not only sign this form for free, but also to offer legal advice to people who might find themselves in unusual situations. There may be complicated immigration situations, for example. They may be newcomers. And it’s a wonderful opportunity for them to get a lawyer’s perspective to make sure there are no obstacles along the way.

Can you give us some examples of things that tend to pop up that might surprise people who get into it?

In addition to first determining which application form you might need and then getting it in your hands, you also need to determine what required documents are needed, whether they need to be translated into English, what are the circumstances depending on whether you were born in Nova Scotia, outside of Nova Scotia, or even outside of Canada.

You need to consider whether your marriage might complicate the consents that might be needed in a situation like this. And then you have a choice of what kind of gender marker you want to show on your birth certificate, whether it’s male, female, X or nothing.

You have all of these options, but it may not be clear in this long and complicated document…and if you make a mistake, this three to five month process will be delayed even further.

What exactly are the required forms? You said they come from vital statistics?

If you go to the Vital Statistics website for the province of Nova Scotia there is information on name change, application form, sex indicator change form if you just want to change your sex marker on your birth certificate if you were born in Nova Scotia, or the Change of Name and Sex Indicator form, which can be completed at the same time. However, not all of them are immediately available on the website. Sometimes you have to ask for it to be sent to you.

Is fingerprinting part of this process?

Yes, this is another complicated aspect. It’s stated in the application form, but for people who might be intimidated by this process, they may not realize that they can actually go to commissionaires [for digital fingerprinting services]. You have to pay, but that’s maybe a little less daunting than, say, going to a police department and having your fingerprints taken.


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