IRCC Sex and Gender Client Identifier Policy
This section contains policy, procedures and guidance used by IRCC staff. It is posted on the IRCC website as a courtesy to stakeholders.
This policy is based on the Treasury Board Secretariat’s Policy Direction to Modernize the Government of Canada’s Sex and Gender Information Practices. The purpose of this policy is to set out how a client’s sex or gender information should be collected, recorded and displayed in the administration of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada’s (IRCC) programs, namely, immigration, citizenship and passport lines of business. The sex or gender identifier includes female (F), male (M), and another gender (X). It is important to note that while this policy may be superseded by the broader application of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms (Charter) and the Canadian Human Rights Act (CHRA), the intent of this policy is to minimize the risk of infringing either the Charter or the CHRA.
An important principle of the policy direction is that sex and gender are separate personal characteristics:
- Sex refers to biological characteristics, such as female, male, or intersex.
- Gender refers to a social identity, such as man, woman, non-binary, or two-spirit.
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To establish a policy for all IRCC lines of business for the purposes of collecting, recording and displaying a client’s sex or gender identifier as accurately as possible. The policy will strive to:
- 1.1.1. Ensure that the collection and recording of personal information is in accordance with the Privacy Act and enables IRCC programs to gather data to meet equity and evidence-based policy objectives.
- 1.1.2. Enhance the privacy of individuals by eliminating unnecessary display of sex or gender information.
- 1.1.3. Ensure that the gender of transgender, non-binary and two-spirit individuals is accurately represented on identification documents and in personal records, while noting that in some cases, sex information may be required to fulfill program needs.
- 1.1.4. Ensure that individuals are able to obtain identity documents and personal records that align with their gender while supporting the integrity of IRCC programs.
- 1.1.5. Provide individuals with a non-binary option that better reflects their gender while enabling IRCC’s collection of more inclusive gender data.
1.2 Policy direction
- 1.2.1. Collection and recording: Programs must have a clear rationale for collecting sex or gender information. Specifically, the collection must be directly related to the operation of that line of business, and it must meet equity and evidence-based policy objectives. Recording of sex or gender information in IRCC’s system of records should align with the identifier provided by the client.
- 1.2.2. Display: Programs must have a clear rationale for the display of sex or gender information. IRCC shall display sex or gender information only in specific cases where there is a clear program need (for example, international compliance, health-related purposes). “Display” refers to showing an individual’s sex or gender information on public-facing documents.
- 1.2.3. Default to gender: Programs must collect (and display, if required) gender information by default. Sex information is to be used by exception in order to fulfill a program need (for example, international compliance, health-related purposes).
- 1.2.4. Non-intrusive change of identifier: Programs must apply non-intrusive requirements for updating sex or gender information that are proportionate to the level of security required by a program area. For example, a request form can be completed to change a sex or gender identifier. A signed statement by the individual on the form in support of the application should be considered sufficient to change sex or gender information.
- 1.2.5. Non-binary gender information: At collection (and when displayed, if required), programs must offer the choice between female (F), male (M), and another gender (X). The X identifier is an option that may be chosen by individuals who do not identify exclusively as male or female, as well as two-spirit individuals.
1.3 Operational considerations
Instructions relating to the collection, recording and display of a client’s sex or gender identifier will be published (as appropriate) in program delivery instructions, operational manuals and bulletins and the Passport Policy Manual.
1.4 Commencement and application
This policy commences as of January 25, 2021.
This policy supersedes all other policies applicable to the immigration, citizenship and passport lines of business issued by IRCC on this topic. It is a “day forward” policy in that every time a new service is requested by an existing client, or a new application is made, this policy shall apply. This policy shall not apply retroactively to cases that were addressed or initiated prior to its commencement.
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