Category Archives: Uncategorized

BC Government: Not discrimination to have gender markers on birth certificates

“The government claims the right to be wrong, knowing it is trans and intersex people who have to bear the burden of their mistake,”

says Kori Doty, one of eight trans and intersex complainants in a human rights case to have birth certificates issued without “m” or “f”.

Yesterday, the BC government filed a response in the case of Cunningham v Vital Statistics Agency.  In their Response, the Ministry of Health is stating that putting gender markers on birth certificates, is not discriminatory.

“The government knows that the current system of designating gender at birth for a document that follows you throughout life is predictably incorrect for many trans and intersex people. The government knows exactly how much hardship and danger these systems can cause in our lives. It is thoroughly disappointing that they are choosing to ignore this, while fully aware of the risk of harm that this choice leaves on those impacted”

says Doty.

Doctors assign the sex of a baby as “m” or “f” based on an inspection of the baby’s genitals at birth.  This assigned sex is recorded in the birth registry of the Vital Statistics Agency.  When a Birth Certificate is issued, it contains the gender marker “m” or “f”. Science now knows that one’s gender is determined by one’s innate sense of themselves.  That is called ‘gender identity’.  One’s gender identity may or may not “match” one’s genitalia. and one’s gender identity does not develop for years after birth. Some people have a gender identity that is neither “m” nor “f”.  Some people labelled “m” identify as female; and some labelled “f” identify as male.

So: the doctor assigning “m” or “f” is sometimes wrong.

The birth certificate based on the doctor’s guess is also sometimes wrong.

Misgendering identity documents contributes to the severe mistreatment and discrimination that trans and intersex people experience.

“We’re not saying we want gender taken off all ID. What we are saying is that when you assign sex at birth, you will get it wrong in some of the cases. Until you can ask someone what their gender is, you cannot know it. Getting it wrong discriminates against trans and intersex people”

says Felix Gilliland, one of the Complainants. The Complaints say that putting “m” or f” on birth certificates is a violation of privacy and inexcusably exposes trans and intersex people to harm.

Milan Halikowski, a 13 year old Complainant says “Having a gender marker on my birth certificate has directly impacted my life in a negative way. It has caused my exclusion and bullying in sports, school and in my daily life. I thought the government’s job was to help keep kids safe and the current policy puts us at risk.”

The Complainants are now waiting on the BC Human Rights Tribunal to set a date for Hearing.

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Why organizations need to pledge their support for trans equality to march in the 2015 Vancouver Pride

Pride marches are wonderful and happy times when the queer community converges to celebrate and demand to be respected and treated just like everyone else. They are part party, part oversexed extravaganza, and part political action. They have always been political and will hopefully stay that way in spite of the apparent domestication of some of the LGB part of LGBT communities which are increasingly accepted into mainstream cis (not trans) hetero (not gay) normative (presumed normal) society.

In this year’s Vancouver Pride March, organized annually by the Vancouver Pride Society,  the requirement to pledge to support equal rights for transgender persons was added. Any organization wishing to participate in the march is required to pledge their support and everyone is encouraged to pledge. The Trans Equality Now web page explains the pledge.

For a number of organizations, the pledge’s request that the explicit protection already afforded against discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation be extended to gender identity and gender presentation.

And this is important. The very real need for this legislation is well known and pride is a wonderful vehicle for making the point and showing a social litmus test of exactly who is willing to step up and admit they are unable to agree to help end the discrimination on the basis of gender identity in law.

Those organizations are run or supported by closed minded persons who, in fact, wish that society continue to discriminate on the basis of gender identity. They hide behind sweet words and pledges to change in the future, but their DNA is discriminatory against trans persons.

Needing to make a choice between participating in the pride march and irking the bigots in their midst is an added bonus of the pledge.

Society needs to know who the Bad Guy organizations are so we can protect it against their contagion. After all, they are the ones that are problematic and damaging. They are the one who discriminate against people on the basis of gender identity. and during the 2015 pride they will see they are wrong and that the vast majority of Canadians do not agree with their narrow, focused, mean viewpoint. It would be better not to have to take this route but sometimes calling people into the circle falls on deaf ears.

Note: The progressive members of organizations which are too regressive to sign the pledge and live up to it that wish to march in Pride are invited to join the Trans Alliance Society for the march. We welcome anyone who has signed the pledge to participate as themselves in our float. Our float designation is AS17, which means Staging Area A, South Side, position 17. We will congregate starting at 10:30 (the space opens at 9:30). Please contact the Trans Alliance Society chair at chair@transalliancesociety.org to let TAS know you will attend.

Explicitly Add Gender Identity to the BC Human Rights Code List of Protected Designation

Morgane Oger, Chair, Trans Alliance Society chair@transalliancesociety.org  

Issue/Problem and Public Policy Solution

The BC Human Righst Act needs to be updated to provide the same explicit protection for gender identity and gender presentation that it affords for sexual orientation.

In British Columbia it is not widely known that even though gender identity is not explicitly mentioned in the human rights code, it has been interpreted to be synonymous with sex since a BC Human Rights Tribunal decision in 1999.

Unfortunately, because the BC Human Rights Code was never updated to reflect this legally binding decision, it is not widely known that discrimination on the basis of gender identity is in fact against the law in BC. Whereas the protections offered under the Act are widely known, the jurisprudence around it are accessible only to sophisticated organizations and the transgender community.

This omission contributes to a situation where transgender persons who know their rights find themselves in conflict with the British Columbians who do not believe them and have encountered no readily available information on the subject.

As a result, conflicts arising from misperception of what is acceptable behaviour towards transgender persons cause a load on the courts that could be avoided. In addition, knowledge of the law would reduce violence against transgender persons who report significantly higher incidents of violence than cisgender (non-transgender) persons.

Including gender identity and gender presentation would reduce this problem by clearly confirming to British Columbians that transgender persons are worthy of the same protections as everyone else and that being transgender is not an acceptable cause for discrimination. It would confer on transgender persons the clear entitlement to live a normal life free of impedance.

This is the very strategy that the federal government cites as reasoning for including sexual orientation in the Canadian Human Rights Act in 1996, long after it was no longer illegal to participate in “homosexual acts” in Canada:

“This inclusion of sexual orientation in the Act was an express declaration by Parliament that gay and lesbian Canadians are entitled to “an opportunity equal with other individuals to make for themselves the lives they are able and wish to have…”

In other words, the inclusion was not merely procedural, but also informative.

We therefore request that the minister of justice update the BC Human Rights Code to include gender identity to the protected classifications, alongside the other protections that it offers against discrimination on the basis of “race, colour, ancestry, place of origin, religion, marital status, family status, physical or mental disability, sex, sexual orientation or age of that person or that group or class of persons”

Research and Evidence

Transgender persons need additional protection

The public service alliance of Canada reported in April 2014 that survey data from both Canada (transgenderPULSE Project) and the United States (National Center for Transgender Equality) illustrates the difficulties experienced by transgender and gender-variant persons:

  • 97% of transgender people have been harassed in their workplace;
  • 26% lost their job because of gender identity;
  • 36% have had suicidal thoughts in one year (2011);
  • 13% said they were constructively dismissed for being transgender;
  • 10% have attempted suicide.

In 2011, Egale Canada Human Rights Trust released “Every Class in Every School,” a report on the first national survey of homophobia, biphobia and transphobia in Canadian schools. The transgender students surveyed consistently reported the highest rates of harassment:

  • 74% said they had been verbally harassed because of their gender identity;
  • 49% reported being sexually harassed;
  • 37% said they had been physically harassed.

Ongoing human rights violations in BC

In its March 2015 decision against the Vancouver Police Board following a complaint of discrimination from a transgender woman, the British Columbia Human Rights Tribunal issued the following order to the

 The VPB has engaged in systemmic discrimination of trans people concerning their identification. Within one year policies are to be adopted by the VPB that allow identification of trans people without discrimination. Officers are to be trained in the implementation of these policies

The Canadian mindset is already supportive

The protection and inclusion of persons of diverse gender identities is already a priority for a number of institutions and societies in Canada.

British Columbia’s Ministry of Education is working hard to incorporate gender identity into the curriculum in order to teach the next generation of British Columbians how to avoid injustice towards our transgender citizens.

The BC K-12 curriculum includes a social justice component called Making Space Which lists as a core goal of “addressing injustice faced by those who historically have been and today frequently continue to be marginalized, ignored, or subjected to discrimination or other forms of oppression.”

Additionally the Vancouver Board of Education implemented a renewed sexual-orientation, gender-identity policy in 2014, ACB, which clearly supports transgender and gender-variant students, staff, and stakeholders without exception. In Vancouver schools, self-identified gender identity is the only gender identity.

Similar policies which explicitly recognize transgender and gender-variant students according to their self-identified gender are in place in a number of other school districts in BC.

The City of Vancouver’s trans & gender variant working group is currently working to implement the recommendations of the Vancouver Parks Board Board working group recommendations. Already implemented at parks board facilities.

The province of British Columbia allows Birth Certificates gender marker changes since 2013. Citizenship Immigration Canada now accepts self-identification of sex designation (gender marker), blurring the distinction between gender identity and sex designation.

In addition, adult identity documents such as driver’s license and provincial identity cards are being issued in British Columbia to transgender individuals who have a gender designation which may or may not match sex designation on a birth certificate.

Because of this, there is now an enforcement difficulties where a person’s identity documents matching gender identity may not match foundational identity documents. In other words, British Columbia is already in a situation.

The Canadian Bar Association sent a letter in support of federal human rights bill C-279 extending rights to transgender persons in the Charter of Rights and Freedom and the criminal code. This is the federal equivalent of the BC Human Rights Code.

The right thing to do.

The evidence of the need for additional protection is well established, and the ability of human rights law to teach citizens is well understood.

Knowing it would help and that it is needed, explicitly adding gender identity and gender expression to the protected classifications in the BC Human Rights Code is the right thing to do today.

Will the Vancouver Police Recommendations on Treatment of Trans Persons Have An Effect?

When the Vancouver Sun interviewed me recently asking me about the new Vancouver Police Department (VPD) April 7 report’s recommendations for addressing the Human Rights Tribunal decision about systemic transgender discrimination against Ms Dawson, there were two messages I hoped to convey.

On the one hand I wished to share my belief that any policy change that leads to better treatment of Transgender persons by police is welcome and should be applauded. That has VPD recognized on paper that they have been acting badly is a positive start. That they commit to concrete actions is encouraging. There is little doubt that having policy in place will assist the trans advocacy and support organizations when they work to encourage our community to speak up when they feel they have been mistreated.

On the other hand, however, we know that Vancouver Police Department have made this sort of promise before. We understand from knowledgeable persons have told us that the Police Department have been down this road before but managed to get away without a judgement against them.  And as result, nothing has actually changed.

Policy… or feet on the ground?

Past experience leaves us wondering whether this policy will actually change things when a transgender persons interacts with a police officer. Can the trans person actually rely on the officer knowing BC law as it applies to gender identity? Can we expect to be treated with dignity and not have our gender identity questioned or dominating the mindspace of an officer when we deal with them? Can we even actually trust that VPD training on gender identity is up to date?

It is unlikely that we can.

The training course mentioned in the police report dates back to 2008. Police departments that use this training module have been subject to a number of valid human rights complaints. Maybe offering LGBTQ training is not the same as taking into account the needs of the trans community.

The main reason ms. Dawson’s discrimination complaint was even heard at all is that it occurred in a prison setting where the miscreants helpfully took notes of their ideas and statements. This sort of confirmation is strikingly rare.

In every day policing, however, the transgender population of Vancouver do not have access to trusted documentation, video footage, or collaborating bonded persons. In fact, we question in our hearts why more often than not, the arrival of a police officer signal that things have taken a turn for the worse for the trans person in an altercation. Ms Dawson ran into a number of transphobic events at the hands of provincial and city authorities which led to her incarceration and thus gave her the ability to be heard.

All her previous complaints were ignored, including the one that led to her losing her housing.

Before the transgender and gender variant community can learn to trust VPD and other service providers, there is a need for the forces of orders to demonstrate to us that they have changed their world view on where we fit into society.

For now, I am waiting to see results. The city of Vancouver has an LGBTQ2+ advisory committee on which I sit. The mayor gets my tweets. There are numerous ways for the city of Vancouver to atone for what it’s police force has done.

To date, nothing has happened. Maybe the city and the Vancouver Police Departmet would do well to reach out to the transgender community before they lose our trust further.

– PHSA invites all BC transgender stakeholders for a workshop to be held on 2 May 2015

NOTE:  TAS would like to extend special thanks to:

Spencer Chandra Herbert, MLA for Vancouver West End and Coal Harbour, for his assistance in helping Transgender and gender-variant British Columbians access safer care. Mr Chandra Herbert has been a reliable and ardent supporter of minority rights and continues to support the human rights and the well-being of marginalized persons in British Columbia.

Health Minister Terry Lake , MLA for kamloops-North Thompson for hearing the calls for help from transgender people in BC and moving swiftly once he understood the desperate situation of many transgender persons outside of Vancouver who met extreme difficulties accessing trans-competent healthcare.

When government is working together, important strides are made.

We understand and appreciate what you have done and look forward to when Transgender British Columbians are fully supported through excellent healthcare and explicit protection in the BC human rights act. We are fighting one battle at a time, and have made great progress in the health care battle.

As an organization working in transgender advocacy, the Trans Alliance Society is well aware that we would have had a much more difficult time getting to this point without Mr Chandra Herbert’s assistance. TAS urges everyone affected by transgender healthcare decisions – notably youth, families, and elders.
For persons outside of the lower mainland, limited funds have been set aside to cover travel costs associated with participation. The session will take place 02 May 2012 from 10:00 until 4:30 PM at 580 West Hastings

It is TAS’s understanding that Attendance is limited to 100-120 persons

Good afternoon,

The Provincial Health Services Authority would like to invite you to a full day session:

Trans Health Future Directions.

This is an opportunity  for us to share the provincial service planning recommendations that have been developed, build relationships with other professionals and organizations, and most importantly to engage in meaningful dialogue with this diverse community to improve health services.

Detailed information is in the attached invite. (TAS note: refer to featured image)

Sincerely,

Arden Krystal
Chief Operating Officer
Provincial Health Services Authority
Vanessa Barron
Consultant, Clinical Transformation
Provincial Health Services Authority

For further information on the PHSA Trans Project process, goals, and mandate the Trans Alliance Society urges you to look on the Provincial Health Services Authority site: here.

More for the record: On ITDoV2015 – Senators Plett battles with Senate Human Rights Committee chair Jaffer over C-279

Here is the expert on C-279 from the transcript of the debate of 31 March 2015, International Trans Day of Visibility,  at the Senate of the Canadian Parliament:

Key Participants (in order of speaking):

  1. Senator Don Plett, Senator for Manitoba, appointed by PM Harper (parliamentary profile, political web page) – Manitoba explicitly protectstransgender persons in its human rights code. Note that before being appointed Senator, Don Plett was the president of the Reform Conservative Party of Canada.
  2. Senator Grant Mitchell, Senator for Alberta, appointed by PM Chretien (parliamentary profile, political web page) – Alberta human rights law coming into effect in summer 2015 explicitly protects transgender persons in its human rights code.. Until then, Alberta law implicitly protects transgender persons.
  3. Senator Mobina S.B. Jaffer, Senator for British Columbia, appointed by PM Chretien (parliamentary profile, political web page) – British Columbia implicitly protects transgender persons in its human rights code since a human rights tribunal ruling in 1999 over access to gendered facilities.
    Note that Senator Jaffer is also the chair of the Senate standing committee for human rights

Canadian Human Rights Act
Criminal Code

Bill to Amend—Twenty-Fourth Report of Legal and Constitutional Affairs Committee—Motion in Amendment—Debate Continued

On the Order:

Resuming debate on the motion of the Honourable Senator Runciman, seconded by the Honourable Senator Batters, for the adoption of the twenty-fourth report of the Standing Senate Committee on Legal and Constitutional Affairs (Bill C-279, An Act to amend the Canadian Human Rights Act and the Criminal Code (gender identity), with amendments), presented in the Senate on February 26, 2015;

And on the motion in amendment of the Honourable Senator Mitchell, seconded by the Honourable Senator Dyck, that the twenty-fourth Report of the Standing Senate Committee on Legal and Constitutional Affairs be not now adopted, but that it be amended by deleting amendment No. 3.

Hon. Mobina S. B. Jaffer: There is an adjournment from Senator Plett on Bill C-279. I ask that, once I have spoken, the adjournment be back in Senator Plett’s name.

[Translation]

Honourable senators, I am speaking today at report stage of Bill C-279, An Act to amend the Canadian Human Rights Act and the Criminal Code (gender identity).

I would like to begin by thanking my colleagues and all the witnesses for their dedication and hard work. I would also like to take this opportunity to talk about one amendment in particular that was adopted in committee. It reads as follows:

That Bill C-279 be amended, on page 2, by adding after line 14 the following:

“2.1 Subsection 15(1) of the Act is amended by striking out “or” after paragraph (f) and by adding the following after that paragraph:

(f.1) in the circumstances described in section 5 or 6 in respect of any service, facility, accommodation or premises that is restricted to one sex only — such as a correctional facility, crisis counselling facility, shelter for victims of abuse, washroom facility, shower facility or clothing changing room — the practice is undertaken for the purpose of protecting individuals in a vulnerable situation; or”.

In light of the arguments made by the various witnesses who appeared before our committee, I find that this amendment is very discriminatory and that it makes the pith and substance of the bill very problematic.

This amendment makes me very uneasy. It suggests that a transgender person is a threat to public safety, which is not so. On one hand we are saying that we are upholding gender identity, but on the other hand we are saying that transgender persons cannot use certain facilities because we perceive them as aggressors when we say that others are in a vulnerable situation.

There is therefore a presumption that these people are engaging in offending behaviour, and that is just another of the many difficulties they must face.

By way of illustration, I would like to quote a Vancouver poet, Ivan E. Coyote, who wrote a poem entitled The Facilities, which was inspired by a conversation he had with a young girl about how difficult it is for a transgender person to access public washrooms.

[English]

I can hold my pee for hours. Nearly all day. It’s a skill I developed out of necessity, after years of navigating public washrooms. I hold it for as long as I can, until I can get myself to the theatre or the green room or my hotel room, or home. Using a public washroom is a very last resort for me. I try to use the wheelchair-accessible, gender-neutral facilities whenever possible, always after a thorough search of the area to make sure no one in an actual wheelchair or with mobility issues is en route. I always hold my breath a little on the way out though, hoping there isn’t an angry person leaning on crutches waiting there when I exit. Sometimes I rehearse a little speech as I pee quickly and wash my hands, just to be prepared. I would say something like, I apologize for inconveniencing you by using the washroom that is accessible to disabled people, but we live in a world that is not able to make room enough for trans people to pee in safety, and after many years of tribulation in women’s washrooms, I have taken to using the only place provided for people of all genders.

[Translation]

I only read a very small part of the poem. However, I strongly encourage you to take the time to read it.

To continue, I would like to read an email I received from a mother who explained the difficult situation of her daughter, who is transgender. This is what she said:

[English]

The bathroom amendment to Bill C-279 [has] the trans community, including the network of parents with trans children, absolutely terrified that our children will become the victims, having to go to the bathroom in the room reserved for the gender to which they do not belong.

Gender and sex are not the same thing. It sounds so basic, but the majority of people I talk to about this are simply unaware of this factual reality. As a society, we have been so indoctrinated with the simple but erroneous idea that there are just two sexes in this world: male and female.

So what is the motivation behind this amendment? Fear — fear of the unknown, of change, of something that is different.

As transgender people become more visible in the world, fear can arise. Supposedly this bill is designed to protect women — sisters, daughters, mothers, wives. From what? I don’t believe there has been one single incident that was brought to court.

So. . . to my daughter. When she came out, she had to endure puberty as a male, so change is slow.

Presenting as a woman out in public was terrifying for her, particularly if she had to pee. The worst time was at Kennedy subway station in Toronto. She had to pee, had no choice, was loudly told to use the men’s room by a cleaner.

Imagine how frightening that was for her — a subway station and forced to use the bathroom that did not align with her gender.

I must say that things are much better now. University of Toronto has done a lot to make gender neutral bathrooms.

I sincerely hope that this bill does not pass and trans women and trans men remain safe in Canada’s bathrooms.

Honourable senators, I find this letter very concerning. As a mother and a grandmother, I cannot imagine the pain and feelings that trans people and their families have to go through.

I would like to share with you Nina’s letter:

Senator Jaffer, I’m writing to tell you my story as a member of the Canadian armed forces with 35 years’ service.

As far back as I can remember, I dreamed about what it would be like if I was a girl. As a small, skinny kid, I was frequently bullied. I frequently wore secretly my sister and mother’s clothes. Occasionally, my parents caught me. I am so lucky my parents never punished me as they thought I would grow out of it.

While still in high school, I joined the Canadian Forces in the Air Reserves. During my military career, I have been an aircraft technician for more than 30 years.

On the night that Saddam Hussein fired the scud missile that landed a few miles north of the Doha airport, I was changing a fuel quantity probe of a CF-18 in the dark with a flashlight, while the fuel ran out over the wing.

During my 35 years of service to Canada, I had many experiences, both good and bad.

I have served my country Canada faithfully. I never turned my back when the CF needed me and was always the first to volunteer. I continued to wear female clothing every chance I could.

Living in barracks was very hard, keeping my stash of clothes hidden.

In 2009, at age 47, feeling safe, I came out to my family and the CF as transgender. I have lived full time since August 2009. The CF was supportive and worked to help me transition in the workplace.

Having no more need to be secretive, I can finally be who I always was. I have a much happier life.

Unfortunately, this amendment assumes that I have done this just so I can use a female washroom and molest children.

What will this amendment mean for me as a 35-year member of the Canadian Armed Forces? Will this mean I have to use the male bathroom again? What about the shower room in a barracks?

(1540)

Finally, I would like to share with you one more letter I received, which stated:

The problem is that one controversial amendment makes C-279 of no actual force, effect or usefulness, because it affords the heads of all federal agencies absolute discretionary power when it comes to dictating what facilities should be used, and by whom.

From my perspective, to equate a transgender person with a sexual predator is despicable. By suggesting that women need protection from sexual predators and disallowing transgender from washrooms-change rooms, you are implying gender variance is pathological. There is absolutely no evidence to support this. It is the same argument offered by previous generations to justify excluding gays and lesbians.

I write today to tell you there are a great many moms of transgender kids out there, who consider this an issue of diversity, not pathology. I hasten to add that though I worry about the safety of women too, I also know that women will be victimized by sexual predators everywhere, until we, as a society, change the way we teach our boys, pay our girls, and respond to mental illness.

[Translation]

Honourable senators, I hope that these letters have made you think about the impact of this amendment. Today, we have the opportunity and the duty to remedy this situation.

[English]

In British Columbia, we have the Gender Identity and Expression Human Rights Recognition Act. I would like to share with you the summary of the act because it makes it clear that it’s the government’s duty to protect the rights of trans people. It states:

This Bill supports the ongoing evolution of the term sex in Human Rights legislation by formally recognizing that the term is intended to include protection for Gender Identity and Gender Expression.

This Bill affirms the rights of transsexuals, transgenderists, intersexed persons, cross-dressers, and other groups who routinely suffer discrimination based on the expression of their gender or the gender identity they experience.

This Bill reaffirms the government of British Columbia’s broad and inclusive approach to protecting the rights and dignity of all people.

Ontario has also a policy on preventing discrimination because of gender identity and gender expression under the Ontario Human Rights Commission. Under the Ontario Human Rights Code, people are protected from discrimination and harassment because of gender identity and gender expression in employment, housing facilities and services, contracts, and membership in unions, trade or professional associations.

Barbara Hall, OHRC Chief Commissioner, said:

It has been a long struggle to have these rights clearly protected in the Code. Adding these grounds makes it clear that trans people are entitled to the same legal protections as other groups under the Code. The challenge now is to send a message across Ontario that discriminating against or harassing people because of their gender identity or gender expression is against the law. This Policy provides the tools to do this.

Let me repeat what OHRC Chief Commissioner stated:

The challenge now is to send a message across Ontario that discriminating against or harassing people because of their gender identity or gender expression is against the law.

Honourable senators, unfortunately, this amendment does the exact opposite. It sounds out a message saying that it’s okay to discriminate against trans people. It’s okay if they’re being attacked or harassed because they’re in a public facility where they feel they belong.

Finally, Saskatchewan’s position is quite similar to B.C.’s and Ontario’s positions. In a news release on the Transgender Day of Remembrance on November 20, 2014, the Saskatchewan government stated:

Hatred and violence directed to any individual, group or organization is a direct affront to democracy in Canada. Violence towards members of the transgender community must be denounced without equivocation.

Transgender Canadians deserve every benefit, consideration and accommodation afforded to them through citizenship. The Saskatchewan Human Rights Commission recognizes that the rights of transgender people are, far too often, attacked through acts of discrimination and violence. The commission has a legislated responsibility to address these wrongs when called upon. To be clear, complaints from transgender people are accepted and pursued to the fullest extent and with a broad and encompassing interpretation of the Saskatchewan Human Rights Code.

[Translation]

These provinces are well ahead of the federal government.

[English]

Honourable senators, let me remind you of one important point: Being transsexual, transgender or gender-nonconforming is a matter of diversity, not pathology. Thus, transsexual, transgender and gender-nonconforming individuals are not inherently disordered. I would like to conclude my speech by reminding all honourable senators that as senators one of our first duties is to protect all Canadians against discrimination, not to create or encourage discrimination against any group of Canadians.

Therefore, honourable senators, I encourage you to vote against the so-called “bathroom amendment.”

Hon. Grant Mitchell: Honourable senators, I spoke to the original motion on the report but I haven’t spoken to the actual amendment that I moved at the end of my comments at that time, if I could take a few moments now.

Hon. Donald Neil Plett: Honourable senators, I have a question for Senator Jaffer if she would take a question.

Could you explain to this chamber where any transgender person does not have the right, under the amendment I am proposing, to enter the bathroom of his or her choice? That is indeed not what the amendment says at all. There has never been a legislated right for any person not to enter a bathroom —

The Hon. the Speaker pro tempore: Is Senator Jaffer asking for more time?

Senator Jaffer: Honourable senators, may I have five more minutes?

Hon. Senators: Agreed.

Senator Plett: As I was saying, there is no legislated right — never has been. Where does my amendment prevent somebody from entering the bathroom of their choice? My amendment says, in fact, that if I believe I’m transgender and I want to enter your bathroom, I am allowed to do that. You are allowed to say that you feel uncomfortable and to ask the management, I guess in this case it might be the Clerk: “I’m not comfortable with Senator Plett in my bathroom, so could you ask him to leave until I’m done?” You have that right.

If my amendment doesn’t pass, you don’t have that right. If you did and the Clerk asked me to leave, I could bring him before the Human Rights Commission. But I still have the right to go into that bathroom. That hasn’t changed. Could you tell me where you have read in my amendment that I am disallowing, with that amendment, anybody from entering the bathroom of their choice?

Senator Jaffer: Senator Plett, thank you for your question. I guess for you and me, because we don’t have to use each other’s bathrooms, it is just speculative. I’m not going to speculate about whether I will let you use my bathroom because that situation will not arise because we both do not have the challenges that this bill addresses. The best answer I can give you is in the stories I read of the people who feel that the amendment introduced by you will threaten their quality of life. What I have already read answers your question that they do not feel comfortable with this amendment. That’s the best answer I can give you.

Senator Plett: That didn’t come anywhere near to answering the question because the same would apply if it wasn’t you or I. The same would apply if it was a transgender individual. That transgender individual has the right to walk into that bathroom. Since you used an illustration, let me use one as well.

I will read a short paragraph of the story of a woman in British Columbia who had known her now ex-husband for some 25 years. She’s 45 years old and has two children. She says here:

— my ex went to see the therapist at the local “gender clinic.” After two one-hour sessions that occurred over a few weeks, my husband was given a letter by the therapist that stated he was transgender. With that letter, he was able to immediately get his driver’s licence changed in British Columbia to state that he was female. He had not at that point taken any hormones, or any other medical procedures, or started to transition in any other way.

(1550)

Now, this is her again saying:

So to reiterate, after TWO HOURS with a therapist, he was able to change his driver’s licence to female. This allowed him to legally enter any female sex segregated facility. My ex-husband is a smaller man but very “swarthy” in appearance and “well endowed” —

— and, again, these are her words — :

— to put it delicately. He looks and sounds very masculine. I can imagine that his presence in a bathroom would be very disconcerting to other women. In fact it was, when he entered the women’s washroom at my daughter’s gymnastics club and the other girls were understandably uncomfortable with his presence here. The mothers in that case would have no recourse to ask him to leave, and that’s unacceptable.

The amendment doesn’t prevent him or her from going there, but it allows people who are uncomfortable with a situation — and in all of my speeches, which I am sure you have read or listened to most of them, have I ever suggested that the transgender individual was a threat? I have never suggested that. I have said others might take advantage of that. But do you believe that this quite well-endowed individual should be entering his daughter’s gymnastics class bathroom?

Now, the last question that I will ask and I will put these together: You called this the bathroom bill. Over and over again, I have said that this is not the bathroom bill. When Senator Mitchell brought his amendment forward, he called it the bathroom bill. You have suggested it is the bathroom bill. The transgender community is tweeting the world telling people that I have called it the bathroom bill. I don’t want to call it the bathroom bill.

In fact, I used names, in my amendment with respect to a facility here: a correctional facility, a crisis-counselling facility, shelter or victims of abuse, washroom facilities, shower —

Some Hon. Senators: Order, order.

The Hon. the Speaker pro tempore: Senator Plett, Senator Jaffer’s time has expired.

(On motion of Senator Plett, debate adjourned.)

Original transcript