WATERLOO — Ontario is taking a small but real step for university students who don't identify as male or female.
Starting next year, students applying to Ontario universities will be able to check "another gender identity" on common applications forms.
It's a change led by the University of Waterloo, which raised the issue with other schools after a transgender student complained.
"I think it's great," said Joyce Tsui, of the student government's Glow Centre for Sexual and Gender Diversity. "It is just a check box but I think it means so much more."
Giving transgender students an option "is definitely a more inclusive way for everybody," and it signals that UW can be socially innovative as well as technologically innovative, she said.
UW's registrar Ray Darling chaired a provincial working group that implemented the change on the Ontario-wide application form.
"It's 2016, and we need to acknowledge that students should be valued for who they are," Darling told UW's communication department.
Darling said UW took on the cause after a student complained that the form limits options to male or female. "We certainly agreed with the student that it was a problem."
Ontario's Human Rights Commission has a policy against gender discrimination that says: "Everyone has the right to define their own gender identity. Trans people should be recognized and treated as the gender they live in, whether or not they have undergone surgery, or their identity documents are up-to-date."
Students applying to Ontario universities for the fall of 2017 will be able to check the new transgender box.