A Brandon University professor gave expert witness testimony in front of the Manitoba Human Rights Commission, which led to a ruling that the Manitoba government begin allowing gender-neutral designations on birth certificates.
Dr. Corinne Mason, an Associate Professor in Gender and Women’s Studies and in Sociology, testified as an expert on gender studies, queer identity, 2SLGBTQIA experiences, and intersectionality.
The case focused on the discrimination faced when the complainant, referred to as “T.A.” attempted to change their designated sex on their Manitoba birth certificate but were denied. Earlier this month, the human rights adjudicator ordered the government to begin permitting gender-neutral designations. The government was also ordered to pay $50,000 in damages to T.A.
Mason said the case showed the real-world importance of academic inquiry into complex issues like sex designation, gender expression and gender identity.
“Gender studies is super relevant and applicable in the world and more people should know that,” she said. “I am thrilled by the outcome of this case, which recognizes that a person must be able to ensure their identity is reflected on their government identification. This is a win for non-binary, intersex, and trans communities who have survived binary gender documentation for too long in Manitoba.”
Dr. Eftihia Mihelakis, the coordinator of BU’s Gender and Women’s Studies Program, said that the testimony was precisely the type of public impact that academic research can often make.
“Everyone wants to see a world that is fair and just for all,” she said. “This case is direct proof that our institutions can evolve to better serve their people when scholars in gender studies such as Dr. Mason participate in advancing social justice and the public good in and out of the classroom setting.”
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