In 2021, 659 Quebecers – a peak – obtained from the Registrar of Civil Status of Quebec an official change in the sex by which they were previously recognized.
These data were sent to The Press following a request for access to information aimed at better understanding the extent of the phenomenon.
Since 2016, Quebecers no longer have to undergo sex reassignment surgery or obtain a letter of recommendation from a health professional in order to submit a request for a change in civil status.
From 2015 to 2016, the number of requests authorized by civil status therefore jumped from 176 to 597.
Between 2020 and 2021, the increase was also significant, rising from 395 to 659. In 2022, no sign of a slowdown in sight: between 1er January and February 28, 157 requests had already been authorized.
The DD Karine Igartua, psychiatrist and co-founder of the Center for Gender Identity at McGill University, says this growing demand can be seen on the ground. Her clinic receives 30 new referrals per month, and the waiting list is up to six months.
Over the years, the needs have changed a lot. “When we opened the clinic 20 years ago, the issues were mainly related to sexual orientation and homophobia. For eight or ten years, people have consulted mainly for questions of gender identity. »
Another change: while for a long time, “the requests came mainly from people assigned to the male gender at birth – in a proportion of two to one at our clinic – the ratio is now reversed”. The requests authorized by the Registrar of Civil Status have come mainly from women each year since 2010, although in a lower proportion than what is seen at the D clinic.D Igartua.
The Quebecers who are followed at her clinic are between 18 and 26 years old, she notes. “Our oldest patient was 82 – he waited for his wife to die before moving forward – and our youngest is 5. At that age, there is nothing to do, except give advice to the parents and tell them that for two thirds of the children, it is a phase. »
But for adults, how can we explain the marked increase in requests, both in clinics and to the Quebec state? “It is certain that for young people, it is no longer taboo as before. They have no problem accepting that someone can call themselves transgender, fluid, non-binary…”
Clinically speaking, the DD However, Igartua does not hide a certain concern about the clearly upward trend. The danger, she says, is that people see in a sex change “a way out” of their ill-being.
Some people say to themselves, “If I change my sex, maybe my life will change.” That’s where we have a job to do, to make people understand that hormone therapy has its limits. She’s not going to change a personality or her group of friends.
The DD Karine Igartua, psychiatrist and co-founder of the Center for Sexual Identity at McGill University
As for the regret rates, the DD Igartua points out that the data available for this is too long ago to know. “Ten to 15 years ago, at a time when the criteria for being entitled to a sex change were much tighter, we were talking about a 2% regret rate among adults. Right now, what I can say is that in my practice, I’ve only seen two adults who said to me, “I should never have done that.” »
Demand also on the rise among children
On the children’s side, the demand is also so great that the Sainte-Justine University Hospital Center is working to set up a clinic specifically devoted to gender identity in the coming months.
The Dr Shuvo Ghosh, co-director of the Meraki Center – the only pediatric clinic where children with gender variance are referred – says the surge in demand among the youngest was particularly noticeable between 2006 and 2016.
Demand remains very high, however, and the waiting list is 12 to 15 months.
How to explain it? Perhaps by the fact that this phenomenon is more and more known, he indicates, but in research, specifies the Dr Ghosh, gender dysphoria has not been linked to any biological and social cause.
So we’re down to hypotheses. For her part, “given that there are so many more requests for people assigned women at birth”, the DD Karine Igartua wonders if that doesn’t have much to do with the stereotypical representation of women.
For a long time, she says, “tomboy type” women had their place perfectly. Today, with hypersexualization, the one who is not in profile “with long smooth hair and luscious lips may come to question her femininity”.
In any case, in her clinic, the DD Igartua has no impression that the particular influx can be linked to the legislative changes to come concerning new provisions in the Civil Registry.
The Legault government will soon make its proposal known, says Élisabeth Gosselin, press secretary to the Minister of Justice, Simon Jolin-Barrette. She recalls that Quebec has already confirmed that the requirement of a surgical intervention to modify the mention of sex in civil status records is no longer on the agenda.
With the collaboration of William Leclerc and Pierre-André Normandin, The Press