Christin Milloy:

Rise up and seize equality

How-To: Apply For “Sex-Unspecified” Canadian Passport in Protest

Canadian PassportAuthor’s note from the future: Please keep in mind that some of the information in this article is out-of-date.

Please share this around Canadian civil liberty, and LGBT groups.

I have chosen to apply to Passport Canada for a sex-unspecified passport. Here’s how you can too.

Any Canadian may join in this protest. You should not need to be trans-identified to request a sex-unspecified passport.

Sex-unspecified passports are recognized around the world (even in Canada). They are a part of the internationally accepted ICAO (International Civil Aviation Organisation) standard, by which Canada claims to abide. In accordance with the no-sex option in this standard, some other countries including Australia, and New Zealand explicitly offer their citizens passports with no sex indicated (by coincidence, both countries also allow trans people to change their sex designations without requiring surgery).

Very recently, Transport Minister Denis Lebel made statements in the House of Commons that Canada is in compliance with the standards set by ICAO. Other representatives of Transport Canada have officially released similar statements. Despite this assertion, Passport Canada does not offer any standardized application option for a sex-free passport. But if Canada is in compliance with ICAO, as Minister Lebel claims, then Passport Canada should honour any request they receive for an ICAO-compliant passport with sex designation “X,” meaning “unspecified.”

And if they don’t honour such requests, it would be an excellent basis on which to form a human rights complaint.

Step 1 — Download and complete (leave “sex” blank!) one of the passport application forms available from Passport Canada’s website. Use the regular “Adult” application (PPTC 153), or the “Child” application (PPTC 155) if you are doing this for your kids. I advise you do not use the Simplified Renewal application (PPTC 054), because that form process does not allow for change of information like “name,” and so would make an excellent excuse for them to refuse you for trying to change the sex designation. Whatever form you pick, remember to fill it out properly, attach the required fee ($87), and include the proper photos signed by guarantor as required. In other words, don’t give them any legitimate reason not to fill your request!

Step 2 — In step one, we left “sex” blank on the form. I actually recommend that you black out the entire cell on the form with a marker, in order to make it harder for them to deliberately misfile it with a “sex” designation based on whatever “sex” designation is present on your birth certificate (government institutions have done this to me in the past).

Step 3 — Download, print, and complete this form letter (PDF), which I have created for this purpose. There are blank spaces on it for your name, date, and signature. Staple this letter on top of your application form, and send it to Passport Canada, at the mailing address provided on the application.

That’s it! Now, just wait for Passport Canada to consider (and probably reject) your application for a sex-unspecified passport.

I want to keep very close tabs on this campaign, so if you do apply (or plan to apply) in protest as I have outlined above, please drop a comment below (or contact me privately, if you prefer) to let me know you’re participating. I believe this will have the most impact if a wide number of Canadians take part.

I invite any persons who receive a rejection notice after following the steps outlined above to join me as co-plaintiffs in a human rights complaint against Passport Canada.

Of course, stay tuned for published results, once my application is processed and returned.

Disclaimer: ICAO standards are not recognized in the following states: DominicaLiechtensteinNiueTuvaluVatican City and the states with limited recognition. Anyone planning travel to these locales might want to consider skipping this protest for their own safety.


  1. Kaitlyn
    Thursday, 2012.02.09 at 23:33

    will this also work if you need to renew a passport? (IE: you already have one with a sex marker)

    Mine is due to expire soon-ish and I would like to do this.

    • Christin
      Thursday, 2012.02.09 at 23:48

      Yup! It sure will. Just follow the instructions on the official Passport Canada form. My passport hasn’t expired yet, and I’m doing this.


  2. Val
    Friday, 2012.02.10 at 12:28

    I believe they require a specific justification (such as old passport lost or stolen) to issue you a new one if the last one has more than a year left on it. If this is still an issue when my passport next comes up for renewal (3 years from now, so hopefully not!), I’m in.

    • Christin
      Friday, 2012.02.10 at 16:17

      Hi Val,

      You can access a new passport at any time if you pay the fee, and return the old one. No reason to wait! 🙂 Good luck.


  3. mariegold
    Friday, 2012.02.10 at 15:19

    i will get on this for myself and my child that i raised to be a person not a gender

    • Christin
      Friday, 2012.02.10 at 16:19

      That is FANTASTIC news! Thank you!

      You might need to alter the form letter slightly to reflect the one you are requesting for your child. Let me know if you would like help.


  4. barbara findlay
    Friday, 2012.02.10 at 15:27

    Great action. Bobby noble and I are in the process of a human rights complaint about this, and are keen to know your experiences and to share ours.

    • Christin
      Friday, 2012.02.10 at 16:16


      Thank you. I would like to know more information about your situation. I will contact you.


  5. Karen
    Friday, 2012.02.10 at 15:53

    In 2003 I applied for a Canadian passport with blank sex designation, and like you, could only watch as the passport clerk filled in the (wrong) circle. “I wouldn’t help you with this even if I wanted to,” he said when I protested.

    Here’s hoping things have improved over the last nine years.

  6. Liz
    Friday, 2012.02.10 at 17:25

    I am not trand but i believe in the right for all people to equality and justice and this amendment is SO unjust! I happen to be in the process of getting a new passport atm, so I am totally going to do this!!! 🙂

  7. Caspar
    Monday, 2012.02.13 at 10:28

    Good luck with changing your passports 🙂

    I wish we had this option here in germany, I think Canada is more progressive in many ways…so go Canada!

  8. Mark
    Wednesday, 2012.02.15 at 08:56

    So let’s screw over everybody in Canada who needs to deal with an already ridiculously long wait time and high expense of getting a passport by making the system grind to a halt by acting like children and blacking out parts of an application that could waste the time of the tragically understaffed passport offices that are dealing with the protest applications and making the people applying for actual passports wait even longer. If protesters want to be taken seriously, they need to stop with the immature theatrics and do the actual work. Look at New York, LGBT groups got gay marriage passed by putting, what, FOUR YEARS (total, two years, then there was a surprise election earlier than they thought, then two more years after that) into collecting signatures, calling government officials, getting assurances to the people that were up for election that they would indeed be voted in if they voted for gay marriage (so they wouldn’t be losing constituents, basically) and really worked their butts off for years and they helped to get gay marriage legalized in New York, even when the previous administration had voted to not allow it. THAT’S the kind of thing we need to be doing to further LGBT rights, not sitting on our asses sending in blacked out application forms like over dramatic children. That’s the equivalent of going on Facebook and writing bitchy comments. Real work seems to be abhorred by protesters anymore, they would rather sit behind a computer screen and go out in masks for a weekend and sit in a tent waiting for rights to just be handed to them rather than putting in the years of actual work to actually change policy, and THAT is the sad state of affairs in our culture, more than anything the government is or isn’t doing.

    • Christin Scarlett Milloy
      Thursday, 2012.02.16 at 23:16

      Thank you for your opinion, Mark.

      It would be worth more if you would sign with a real name and a legit email account.

      The reason Trans people need to take whatever political action they can claw together now is because we are not yet at the point where we even have the same equal rights as our gay and lesbian allies.


    • Chris
      Sunday, 2012.04.15 at 18:47


      Are you saying I need to wait FOUR YEARS before I can travel with some modicom of ease because you’re pissed off that we’re daring to protest in a way that will have some IMPACT on the current policies of this government and Passport Canada? It’s not “dramatic” unless you know EXACTLY what it’s like travelling as a transgendered person (which I suspect you don’t).

      I’ll tell ya something buddy, there is more time wasted with extra questions, secondary searches, question mark pauses clearly seen above someone’s head when looking at me, and all these “secondary” methods of delaying my travel time than there is in having a protest where the waves of change will seriously MOVE SOMETHING.

      It takes something like this for things to change. So that all of us can travel safer and FASTER.

      It’s ridiculous that Canada hasn’t smartened up. Same goes for the US.

      I’m very tempted to join in.

      My reasons for not being able to join in at this time is that unfortunately, I have to work on getting gender marker from F to M for purposes of US immigration. Otherwise, if I wasn’t planning on this… I would be joining this protest *today*.

  9. Tricia
    Saturday, 2012.02.18 at 12:26

    I love this idea and I would love to participate. I hate filling in my sex on forms when it is irrelevant (which is pretty much always). However, I am hoping to travel to China and the middle east on my next passport so for the sake of not being refused entry to a country, or receiving a lot of hassle I don’t think I will participate at this moment.

    • Christin Scarlett Milloy
      Tuesday, 2012.02.21 at 17:03

      That is reasonable – you have to take whatever precautions you feel are necessary… But FYI, China and most middle east nations are signatories to ICAO and would accept a sex-free passport! 🙂


  10. Ari
    Tuesday, 2012.03.06 at 12:45

    Anyone received any response yet? I’m not currently living in Canada (I’m Canadian though), but would love to change my passport this summer when I come. Wondering a) if it will be possible to get a gender-less one (after seeing the outcome of this) and b) how long does it take to get a passport, since I’ll only be in Canada for about a month? One more question, is it simple to change one’s name on the passport and is the name-change/passport change procedure long? Also, any info on whether name-change can be done outside of Canada (e.g. at a Canadian embassy or consulate office or something)? Thanks!

  11. Sean Furlong
    Monday, 2012.03.12 at 06:36

    Also, what about aliens that are born in a humans body? Should they not be represented as well? Hell, they’re still waiting for the government to fund the head elongation operation. I hope they don’t choose to do the same thing, otherwise I’ll be waiting a year for my new passport. But I guess that’s what I get for accepting what I was born with.

    • Christin Scarlett Milloy
      Tuesday, 2012.03.13 at 01:02

      Yep, that feeling you’re experiencing is called “cissexual privilege.”

      Congratulations to you that you can feel entitled to go around mouthing off to people who weren’t as lucky at birth as you were. What’s your next trick, yelling at the wheelchair-bound for ruining your favourite shopping spot with those infernal ramps?

      Points for creativity in comparing us to alien wannabes. That’s one I’ve never seen before.


  12. hanna
    Tuesday, 2012.03.13 at 15:19

    i tried getting the unspecified passport earlier.followed all the procedures and my documents are complete.but surprisingly they wont do it coz they said its not an option and its not yet a policy.even u want to put “x” on ur gender they wont coz its only M or F. FML!

    • Christin Scarlett Milloy
      Tuesday, 2012.03.13 at 16:10

      Hello Hanna,

      Would you please contact me via the contact form:

      I am preparing to file a human rights complaint based on their refusal to provide the ‘X’ passports, and I would like to include as many co-applicants as possible. Thank you.

  13. Disbelief
    Thursday, 2013.02.14 at 22:58

    If you have a penis you are male and if you have a vagina you are female. If you were born without either-if this is possible-then your sex is “unspecified”. Do not claim to be anything but what you are until after surgery and then choose the appropriate box. Simple. There are more important battles to be fought than this.

    • Christin Scarlett Milloy
      Monday, 2013.02.25 at 02:27

      Thank you for sharing your anonymous opinion about how other people’s identities should work.


    • Keziah T
      Monday, 2013.08.12 at 01:59

      If the world is screaming for equity and equality, why should this be considered an unimportant battle? Who says that it’s not? What is your evidence as to why it isn’t? But like what Christin said, thanks for your opinion.

  14. Dean Boulding
    Friday, 2013.11.29 at 02:10

    Any updates? I don’t think this is going to work. ICAO doesn’t (cannot) require that states issuing travel documents provide the sex option of “unspecified”. It (Document 9303) provides the requirements that a (machine readable) travel document must meet, and that specification includes the requirement that it must be M, F, or X for unspecified. It explicitly prohibits leaving the sex field blank. So the Government of Canada is compliant with the ICAO standard. I do agree, however, that the Government of Canada is not in compliance with the wishes of its citizens on this matter. I support your goals wholeheartedly, but you may want to reconsider this tactic.

  15. Kyle
    Wednesday, 2014.11.12 at 00:23

    Any updates on how this worked out?
    I’ve been reading your site all night – as a genderqueer person who’s gender leans just slightly towards my biological sex of male, I don’t face many of the issues other Trans* people do, but it still disgusts me to see my peers treated in such a manner *sigh*

    • Christin Scarlett Milloy
      Wednesday, 2014.11.12 at 17:45

      Yeah, they won’t fill these requests. But changes might be coming soon as the result of federal human rights complaints and some political actions in the provinces.

  16. Kaleigh
    Friday, 2012.03.02 at 18:23

    Filling in my passport form right now.!

3 Trackbacks

  1. […] the first trans person to run for government at the provincial level) is calling on trans people to apply for a sex-unspecified Passport (which Canada does not yet have as an available option) in protest, although I’m not sure […]

  2. […] we have to do is apply for “sex-unspecified” canadian passports; the canadian government will issue thousands of non-gendered passports to us and we will be the […]

  3. […] Photo Credit: Christin Milloy […]

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