HALIFAX -- Transgender people in Nova Scotia are now able to have the sex designation they prefer on their birth certificates.

The amendment to the Vital Statistics Act took effect earlier this week.

The move comes after more than 600 Nova Scotians signed a petition last fall calling for the amendment, prompting Service Nova Scotia Minister Mark Furey to introduce legislation in April.

The province says the changes will protect transgender Nova Scotians from harassment and discrimination.

Those who want to change the designation on their birth certificates must present a self-declaration and a letter of support from professionals such as a nurse practitioner, physician or social worker.

People under 16 must have the consent of their guardians and their letter of support must come from a physician or psychologist.