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Gender-neutral birth certificates could be issued in Ontario as early as next year, provided the province can work out bureaucratic hurdles involving other governments.

Ontario's minister of government and consumer services said Thursday consultations will be held on the matter this summer and the province is working to ensure a gender-neutral birth certificate would be legally recognized in other jurisdictions.

Tracy MacCharles said she's hopeful Ontario can issue gender-neutral birth certificates by 2018.

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MacCharles said she's asked the ministry to reach out to Joshua M. Ferguson — an Ontario-born filmmaker who applied last week to have a change of sex designation on their birth certificate from male to non-binary — a term used to define someone who doesn't identify with either gender. The minister said she knows the issue is important to the trans and non-binary community.

Ferguson, who wants to be referred to by the gender-neutral pronouns "they/them/their," said they're pleased to see the government moving forward on the issue.

The 34-year-old, who is also a writer and activist, said they have a right to a non-binary birth certificate given Ontario's laws against discrimination on the basis of gender identity. Ferguson said they'd hoped to receive the new certificate by this summer.

"If it doesn't happen until 2018, this is definitely a problem for me personally, because it would continue to cause me emotional grief over having a birth certificate and all my other forms of legal documentation that are currently discriminating against me, because I'm not a male or a female," Ferguson said.

Currently, Ontario offers gender-neutral options for drivers' licenses and health cards but not for birth certificates.

Ferguson, who lives in Vancouver, has submitted a physician letter along with the application to confirm that the sex on their current birth certificate does not match their gender identity.

Last month, activist Gemma Hickey applied for a non-binary birth certificate in Newfoundland and Labrador, but no decision has been announced.

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