Manitoba name change for transgender people

Disclaimer: This is legal talk, not legal advice. Laws vary by state, and some of the information discussed on this page may not be applicable in your case. I cannot guarantee the accuracy of this information and provide it without warranty. Laws change and this information may contain errors and omissions. It is up to you to confirm any information herein by doing your own research. has a wealth of information for women in Manitoba:

Their page on legal issues is here:

In June 2003 a reader sent the following guide for the project for women in Manitoba. It was written by Jeff Johns at Uuniversty of Manitoba in 1999.

1. Changing Names

In the common law, the rule regarding changing one's name is that "absent fraud or prejudice to others, a person has the right to adopt or use any name." This rule has been supplanted in most jurisdictions with statute based rules that add their own requirements.

In Manitoba, Name Changes are regulated by the Change of Name Act. Section 2(3) of the Act states regarding the application for a change of name:

The application shall be refused where

a. the requirements of this Act are not met; or

b. the Director is of the opinion that the proposed name might reasonably cause mistake or confusion to any other person; or

c. the Director is of the opinion that the change of name is sought for an improper purpose or is on any other ground objectionable; or

d. the Director is of the opinion that the applicant has made frequent changes of name and the Director shall notify the applicant of the reasons for refusal and of the right to appeal.

The "Director" mentioned in the Statute is the Director of Vital Statistics for Manitoba and it would appear, possesses a large amount of discretion in allowing or refusing a name change, although section 2(4) does allow an appeal of the decision to the Courts. The woman I interviewed said she did not face any resistance when she applied to have her name changed.

Difficulties in the United States

In the United States the theme of most name change statutes is basically in line with the common law rule; the change will be allowed if it is not done to avoid financial obligations. The difficulties faced by transsexual people in the U.S. regarding name changes have, for the most part, not been faced by post-operative transsexuals but rather ones in a pre-operative state. In cases in Pennsylvania and New York, although name changes were eventually allowed, the courts required that the applicant provide corroborating evidence that he or she wanted to live permanently as a member of the opposite sex.

However, cases in Ohio and New Jersey did follow the common law rule stating in the Ohio case "so long as there is no intent to defraud creditors or deceive others and the applicant has acted in good faith, then the petition should be granted." As well, in 1998 another Transsexual applied for a name change in Pennsylvania and in granting the change, the court abandoned the requirements of corroboration and asked only the common law requirements.

Changing designation on a Birth certificate

In their Discussion Paper: Toward a Commission Policy on Gender Identity, the Ontario Human Rights Commission adopts the following statement of the Canadian Task Force for transgender Law Reform statement:

The current practice of demanding that an individual declare their gender on public and private requests for services or other forms and applications is a subtle form of harassment that affects all Canadians. There is no need for gender to be declared on a driver's license, for example. Where gender must be declared all Canadians should have a third neutral option, which allows them to express that they do not wish to be identified as either female or male.

The prompting of this statement no doubt arises in part from the statutory requirements regarding alteration of the sex designation in Ontario. The Ontario Vital Statistics Act provides for a sex designation change on a birth certificate, but only allows the application after sex reassignment surgery and requires a letter from a doctor who either performed the procedure or who has physically examined the applicant, that verifies that surgery has taken place. This leaves pre-operative transsexuals, intersexed people and other transgenderists in the difficult position of having their documentary identification at odds with their gender identity.

Unfortunately, the Manitoba Vital Statistics Act essentially mirrors the Ontario statute, also requiring the application to be post SRS. Section 25(1) states:

The Director may upon application by any person who has undergone transsexual surgery and upon payment of the prescribed fee make a notation changing the designation of that person so that it will be consistent with the results of the surgery.

Section 25(2) contains the requirements for medical certificates.

The woman I talked to was not born in Canada so she does not need her birth certificate changed but will change her sex on her Canadian citizenship records once she has had surgery. This way she will be able to produce a doctor's letter to minimize the possible hassle. She has been living as a woman full time since 1996 and all her identification has her female name but retains the M of male sex. This has not been a problem for her most likely because the designation is usually not too pronounced on her identification, and because her appearance would not make anyone suspicious of her birth sex."

Other resources


Manitoba law

See vital Statistics Act cited above.