Listing gender on official documents is pointless

On top of ostracizing non-cisgender people, it’s just unnecessary

Bureaucratic practices are useless enough anyway. PHOTO: Sharon McCutcheon / Unsplash

by Madeleine Chan, Opinions Editor

If you’ve ever downloaded your advising transcript from goSFU, whether to help with advising or just to weep at the slow decline of your GPA, you may have noticed that it lists a gender. This is the same with any driver’s licence, passport, or other official document that may be used for identification. However, this facet of identification is not 100% accurate and shouldn’t be the standard to include on these files.

First, I don’t see how having one’s gender on SFU’s advising transcripts helps anyone. For starters, it is more difficult for non-cisgender people to be properly identified, as it cannot simply be changed with a few clicks on goSFU. It also insinuates that gender is of importance to a student’s value and assumes that it is important for advisors to consider in their evaluations. Other categories like projected academic level and total units accumulated that are specific to a student’s studies are necessary, but an arbitrary gender category is not one of them.

The same irrelevancy goes for identification issued by governments. Typically, citizens have only had the option to designate themselves male or female, if they have a choice at all. This enforces the idea that there are only two genders that exist. Though, in 2018, the BC government allowed an “X” designation to be allotted for driver’s licences and BC services cards instead of the standard “M” or “F.” While this was definitely a great step towards inclusion of non-cisgender people, it still recognises the gender binary as the norm, and all other gender identities as “other.” This isn’t an ideal way to include non-binary identites and it would be better if the category was abolished entirely.

Gender on identifying documents may be there to aid in confirming one’s identity, but it leaves out one very big point: that one’s gender identity does not necessarily correlate with one’s appearance or biology. For example, a person who identifies as female, but wears clothes that are typically thought to be “male” may not be recognizable as the “F” on their ID. In addition, someone who has not or cannot go through the arduous process of changing their ID could be stuck with the letter they were assigned at birth. Relying on attributes like height and eye colour that aren’t based on an outdated system of gendered perceptions would be more ideal for truly being able to confirm someone’s identity.

For some gender non-conforming people, having their true gender listed in an official way may be wholly validating, and I would not want to take away from that. However, eliminating the category of gender entirely in an official capacity makes it so that they are not listed as an incorrect gender from birth, and loosens the tight grip the gender binary has on the populace. If not for inclusion’s sake, then for accuracy of identification.