“This bill provides for trans people the same human rights protection as enjoyed by other minorities,” said Gemma Hickey, President of Egale Canada. “Working for passage of this bill is a top priority for Egale.”
“There is currently no explicit protection for trans people,” said Jessica Freedman, Chair of Egale Canada’s Trans Issues Committee. “Adding gender identity and gender expression to the Human Rights Act tells trans people that they can accept themselves and live in dignity free from discrimination and harassment. This is important for such a marginalized and disenfranchised minority as ours.”
“Trans people should be given the same human rights protection explicitly offered to people based on race and sexual orientation, among other grounds,” said Tami Starlight, Egale Canada Board member and Trans Action Canada director.
“Trans-identified people should not be denied human rights protection, or forced to try and fit themselves within existing grounds which are not necessarily applicable in order to be able to seek redress against discrimination,” said Laurie Arron, Egale’s Director of Advocacy. “It’s time for the federal government to listen to its own experts and end the exclusion of this minority. They are people desperately in need of protection.”
“Egale has a nine-year history of advocacy for trans people, including our successful lobby of the Northwest Territories, which is currently the only Canadian jurisdiction to include trans protection in its human rights law,” added Mr. Arron.
For more information:
Laurie Arron, Director of Advocacy
Jessica Freedman, Chair, Trans Issues Committee
Gemma Hickey, President
Tami Starlight, Board Member
Gilles Marchildon, Executive Director
Background on Human Rights Protection for Trans People
One of the great myths of our culture is that at birth each infant can be identified as distinctly ‘male’ or ‘female’ (biological sex), has a corresponding ‘masculine’ or ‘feminine’ internal sense of identity (gender identity), and lives correspondingly as a ‘man’ or a ‘woman’ (gender expression).
According to the Ontario Human Rights Commission’s Policy on Harassment and Discrimination because of Gender Identity (March, 2000):
“There are, arguably, few groups in our society today who are as disadvantaged and disenfranchised as transgenderists and transsexuals. Fear and hatred of transgenderists and transsexuals combined with hostility toward their very existence are fundamental human rights issues.”
On October 31, 2002, the Northwest Territories became the first jurisdiction in Canada to explicitly add “gender identity” to its human rights legislation as a prohibited ground of discrimination.
The Canadian Human Rights Act
The Canadian Human Rights Act protects against discrimination and harassment in employment, housing and services. Currently prohibited grounds of discrimination are race, national or ethnic origin, colour, religion, age, sex, sexual orientation, marital status, family status, disability and conviction for which a pardon has been granted.
Human rights tribunals have provided protection to trans people on the grounds of sex and disability. However, this protection is invisible and unclear.
Following a year-long national consultation process, a Canadian Human Rights Act Review Panel unanimously recommended in 2000 that the Canadian Human Rights Act be amended to explicitly protect trans-identified people from discrimination.