ID Cards for the Revolution

A new project underway in downtown Montréal may change the way personal ID cards function in Canada. The Solidarity ID Project, introduced by Le Frigo Vert, Concordia’s non-profit, co-operative health-food store, and the 2110 Centre for Gender Advocacy, aims to provide transsexual, transgendered and gender-non-conforming individuals as well as migrant, indigenous and non-status people with a more representative piece of identification.

The project seeks “to stand in solidarity and provide people with an alternative to legally assigned identities,” while at the same time bringing attention to the oppressive identification policies in Canada.

“It has been, for the most part, an awareness campaign,” says Jackson Hagner, one of the co-ordinators behind the project, along with Gab Perry-Stensson.

Against Transphobia
The idea of self-identity and representation is a touchy subject. In order for someone to legally change their sexual identity in Québec, they must undergo all possible surgeries to change their physical bodies, as well as hormone therapy: a very expensive undertaking. In order to change their name only, a person must provide legal evidence that they have been using this name-of-choice in all areas of their life for at least one year. This can create an issue for someone whose self-representation doesn’t fall within the categories of “male” and “female”, or who is unable to provide legal evidence of their name change. Anyone who does not have a piece of legal personal ID matching their gender, name or status, faces a multitude of problems when trying to register for school, sign a housing lease or access healthcare.

“Not having legal ID that matches your gender identity causes a lot of problems,” says Julie-Maude Beauchesne, director of AlterHéros organization in Montréal.

“It intrudes into people’s private life, and is humiliating when someone has to expose themselves as transgender to explain why their ID card is supposedly incorrect.”

There are certain government ministries, such as Emplois Québec, that allow their clients to specify a preferred name or name-of-use for all correspondence. At the federal level, ministries such as Revenue Canada and Human Resources share the same practice.

“If Emplois Québec can do it, then why not the Ministre d’Education?” Beuchesne asks, “Universities just aren’t cooperating.”

The idea for the Solidarity ID Project came out of a transphobia workshop held at Le Frigo Vert earlier this year. With help from staff and volunteers from Le Frigo Vert, the 2110 Centre and others, the project was well underway by September, and continues to gather support.

The cards offer space for individuals to put their name of common usage, gender identity, territory or nation of allegiance along with an optional photo.

In September the S.I.D. team set up a booth at Concordia University offering the ID cards and encouraging students to participate in a discussion about identity politics. While the response from the Concordia community was mostly positive, there were some students who took the opportunity to sabotage the project or treat it as a joke, the team noted.

A self-determined identity
Liam Michaud-O’Grady, a women’s studies student at Concordia University, decided to get a SID card “to build support among Concordia students to pressure the administration into allowing self-determined identity.”

While hopeful that the SID project would have a positive impact on identity politics in Montréal, Michaud-O’Grady hopes that the project will use the opportunity to create links between trans rights and other self-determination struggles.

Hagner and Perry-Stensson agree completely. “One of the most essential parts of this project is to expose the links between trans, migrant, non-status, and indigenous amongst other struggles to self-determine and preserve one’s own identification,” they say.

Official correspondence
Having met with Concordia’s Dean of Students last week, Hagner and Perry-Stensson are hoping to convince the university to offer students the option of putting their name of common usage and gender identity on all official correspondence including the student ID card.

In the coming months, the team plans to do some fundraising in order to buy a card-printing machine in order to streamline the process of making SID cards. While the cards are not legal ID yet, the team remains hopeful. “We want to encourage people to use their SID cards… so that eventually they will be accepted as a valid piece of identification,” says Perry-Stensson.

Solidarity ID cards can be obtained at Le Frigo Vert at 2130 Mackay St, or at the 2110 Centre for Gender Advocacy, at 2110 Mackay St. For more information, or to get a card, contact

About AlterHéros

Depuis 2002, AlterHéros répond à vos questions en ligne au sujet de la diversité sexuelle, de la pluralité des genres et de la santé sexuelle en général. Nous organisons aussi des activités pour les jeunes LGBTQIA2S+ de 14 à 30 ans et leurs allié.e.s.

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