TORONTO: The 11 April 2012 decision of the Ontario Human Rights Tribunal to no longer require sex reassignment surgery in order to change a sex designation on an Ontario birth registration has been hailed by Egale Canada as a significant step toward recognizing the discrimination faced daily by trans people in Canadian society and respecting the inherent dignity and equality of trans people.
“I find that making ‘transsexual surgery’ a prerequisite for obtaining a change in sex designation is discriminatory […] because it perpetuates the disadvantage, prejudice and stereotyping experienced by them,” wrote Adjudicator Sheri D. Price in the 95-page decision.
“While there is a lot to take in from this decision,” said Helen Kennedy, Executive Director of Egale Canada, “the Tribunal seems to have hit the mark on every count. Our trans communities routinely face discrimination, harassment and abuse from every corner of society. This ruling is foundational in that, for the first time, a precedent has been set to respect the individual identity of trans people.”
According to the ruling, entitled XY v. Ontario (Government and Consumer Services), “Section 36 of the [Vital Statistics Act] in particular perpetuates disadvantage and prejudice against transgendered persons because it gives force to the prejudicial notion that transgendered people are not entitled to have their gender recognized unless they surgically alter their bodies.”
While the Tribunal does not have the jurisdiction to set aside or strike down legislation, it has directed the Government of Ontario to revise the criteria for changing a sex designation in order to remove the discriminatory effect of the current system on trans people and comply with the Ontario Human Rights Code—namely, without the requirement for surgery. The ruling sets a 180 day deadline for the amendments to be made.
“It remains to be seen how Ontario will decide to move forward, but this ruling certainly establishes a critical precedent toward the recognition and full inclusion of trans people in our communities,” added Kennedy.