(CN) – Starting August 31, Canadians will be able to select a third gender option for their passports. The move, announced Thursday, is intended to protect the rights of Canadians who choose not identify as male or female.
“All Canadians should feel safe to be themselves, live according to their gender identity and express their gender as they choose,” said Ahmed Hussen, Canada’s minister of Immigration, Refugees, and Citizenship, in a written statement.
“By introducing an ‘X’ gender designation in our government-issued documents, we are taking an important step towards advancing equality for all Canadians regardless of gender identity or expression,” Hussen said.
The new “X” option is part of a government-wide effort to “protect Canadians in their right to the gender identity of their choice, and freedom of gender expression,” according to an announcement from Canada’s immigration department.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau first tasked a special adviser in November to head the government effort promoting an expansion of rights for LGBT individuals.
The new provision follows the country’s passage of the C-16 bill in June, an amendment to the Canadian Human Rights Act making it illegal for individuals to be discriminated against on grounds of their gender identity or sexual orientation.