Tag Archives: Advocacy

Canadians: how to change your sex designation in provincial or federal documents by jurisdiction (Male, Female only)

Last updated: 03 June 2015

Note: This post was changed from an opinion and position piece to a factual piece for a number of reasons.

“You may apply to change your gender designation on your BC Services Card, driver’s licence, EDL, BCID or EIC. Gender is listed as “Sex” on all these cards, as well as your birth certificate. ” – Change your Name, Address, or Gender – Province of British Columbia

“Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) is now accepting provincial or territorial documents such as an amended birth certificate showing a new sex designation or a legal/court order recognizing the person under a different sex designation or gender identity.” Establishing gender for citizenship applications – Government of Canada

The following information was taken from a survey of information provided by provincial and federal information sites in Canada for the purpose of instructing transgender persons on whether they can chance their provincial or federal documents to the appropriate sex designation based on their self-identified gender or sex.

Note: As of May 2015, none of the provinces, territories, or federal sites mention sex or gender designation that is neither Male or Female.

Alberta:

– Birth Certificates: ?
– Identity Documents: Changeable
– Implemented

Service Alberta issued a notice of enhancement of regulation related to “change of sex”;

“Effective immediately, an enhancement has been made to the Operator Licensing and Vehicle Control Regulation and the Identification Card Regulation affecting the change of sex on these cards. With these changes, transgender Albertans may submit one of the following to update their sex on their drivers licence or identification card:

  • an amended birth certificate, or

  • an amended record of birth, or

  • an affidavit and a letter from a regulated medical professional.”

British Columbia:

– Birth Certificate: Changeable
– Provincial ID: Changeable
– Implemented
– Basis: declared gender identity

BC provides the following instructions on the BC ID information page:

“B.C. residents are required to keep their personal information current in order to continue to qualify for health care coverage.

There are a few life events that could require an update to your personal information – getting married or divorced, legally changing your name, moving or changing your gender.”

“B.C. is the first jurisdiction in Canada to revise its legislation to remove the requirement for transsexual surgery in order for an individual to change their gender designation on their birth certificate.”

Changing Your Personal Information

Manitoba

– Birth Certificate: changeable
– Provincial ID: changeable
– Implemented
– Basis: declared gender identity

Vital Statistics Agency of Manitoba says:

“Manitoba recently changed its legislation to remove the requirement for transsexual surgery to change the sex designation on a Manitoba birth registration and birth certificate. A person whose birth is registered in Manitoba may apply for this change through an application that includes a statutory declaration and a letter from a health care professional (physician, psychiatrist, surgeon, nurse practitioner, psychologist or independent practice psychological associate).”

The link to a template for a letter of a health care professional can be found here. The instructions to the care professional include the following:

Vital Statistics Agency relies on health care professionals to exercise their professional judgement in accordance with their experience, expertise and contact with the applicant to determine whether the applicant’s sex designation on their birth registration should be changed.

North West Territories

Nova Scotia

– Birth certificate: Changeable
– Provincial ID: Changeable
– Implementation ongoing
– Basis: declared gender identity

The goverenemt of NS published the following statement as part of a press release April 8 “Amendments to Vital Statistics Act Introduced” :

“Amendments introduced today, April 8, will remove the requirement for Nova Scotians to have sex reassignment surgery to change the sex designation on their birth certificate.”

“Amendments include:
— eliminating the requirement for sex reassignment surgery to change the sex designation on a birth certificate
— requiring a self-declaration from the applicant stating that they have assumed, identify with, and intend to live in a gender identity that corresponds with the desired sex designation
— requiring a letter of support from a person with a professional designation as defined in regulation (like a doctor, nurse, social worker or psychologist)
— requiring minors under 16 to have parental consent. The letter of support must be from a doctor or psychologist that has treated or evaluated the applicant and must include a professional opinion that the minor is able to understand the impact of the decision.”

Nunavut

Ontario

– Birth certificate: Changeable
– Provincial ID: Changeable
– Implemented
– Basis: declared gender identity

Service Ontario provides the following instructions, which are also available on their info page here:

“As an adult, to change your sex designation you will need:

As a child, to change your sex designation you will need:

PEI

Quebec

– Birth Certificates: Changeable but onerous
– Identity Documents: Changeable but onerous
– Implemented
– basis – proof of specific surgery

Note 1: The government of Quebec publishes very little on the matter of change of sex in French or English.

Note 2: Santé Trans Health, an organization whose role is similar to Trans Alliance Society, reports that proof of transsexual surgery is required in Quebec before a change of designation is issued:

In order to meet the requirements in Québec, a female-to-male transsexual needs to have taken hormones and had a hysterectomy. A male-to-female transsexual has to have taken hormones and undergone a vaginoplasty.

The website of the Directeur de L’eta Civil (English, French) offers the following instructions:

Application for the simplified forwarding of information relative to the change of name or designation of sex

Saskatchewan

Yukon

Federally

“Transgender Canadians can now self-identify on citizenship documents without sex-reassignment surgery” – National Post

The Citizenship and Immigration website provides the following information:

“New instructions are currently being developed. It is anticipated that they will be posted by spring or early summer 2015. The current instructions will be amended to remove the requirement for proof of sex reassignment surgery (SRS) and to provide a list of acceptable documentary evidence to support an applicant’s request to change the sex designation on a citizenship certificate.

Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) is now accepting provincial or territorial documents such as an amended birth certificate showing a new sex designation or a legal/court order recognizing the person under a different sex designation or gender identity. However, CIC is also reviewing what other evidence will be accepted to support a request for a change in sex designation on a citizenship certificate for clients who are unable to obtain a provincial or territorial document.”

A trans guy on the cover of Men’s Health Magazine

Aydian Dowling stands to be voted the ultimate guy.

if it sticks he is expected to be featured on the cover of an upcoming Men’s Health magazine upon winning this novel popularity contest as the best example of The Good Man.

That a transgender man would be featured as the perfect guy on the cover of a magazine that showcases All Things Man is good for everyone – transgender or not.. The more inclusivity our society’s voices reflect through media, the better for all of us.

However, let us not ignore that there is valid criticism that aesthetically pleasing transgender persons fare better in life than those of us who are not. Beauty and handsomeness help disproportionately when faced with difficulties of identity and perception and those who do not benefit from matching aesthetic expectations have a more difficult time. This can be too hard for people and is oft cited by persons who give up on their transition. Hence, there is definitely a double edge to this sword. On the one hand it furthers the cause of transgender persons but on the other hand, it is doing so by showcasing conformity in a shallow and skin-deep contest.

This criticism is not heard often enough and even less often addressed. And the issue need to be talked about because it is not helpful to tell people that we love trans people who “pass” and that the rest of us simply do not belong. And having a beautiful sensitive beefcake guy who happens to be transgender does little to address the issues faced by non-passing trans folks.

Sadly, though, this requires the approach of doing nothing for anyone until you can do something for everyone. That particular approach, while ideologically more pure, sadly tends to get very little done. And what Mr Dowling is doing is still really very good for us all.

Society is still in a place where transgender persons struggle for acceptance in mainstream society, outside of our safe queer bubbles, and one key barrier to broad acceptance eminates from well-meaning people who accidentally do the terrible things they do to our community member simply by not understanding what this is actually all about and protecting themselves using the wrong means from their own unfounded fears.

For this reason, having a transgender man on the front cover of a men’s health magazine is good for the transgender community. It assists cis-gender (non-transgender) people to understand that gender identity applies to both men and women and that there may be transgender people around them that they never thought about.

His participation in this contest is also very good because it redefines the concept of masculinity. A trans man is just as masculine as a non-trans man and trans men’s existence needs to be considered and welcomed in the mindset of all things for men – in the same way that trans women need to be welcome in the mindset of all things for women. This particular guy, on this particular magazine cover, reinforces in peoples minds the idea that transgender men are men and transgender women are women. And it needs to happen more.

This also helps us because it offers a positive message where not so long ago we had only cautionary tales. The transgender and gender-variant community has suffered for a long time by being represented in media via negative portrayals. Seeing role models in places trans person were previously excluded from, such as gender-focused magazines like men’s health magazine or Elle Canada, can only help.

From the advocacy point of view, it is also good to see tangible examples which debunk the damaging preconception that transgender persons are only trans women, when in fact there are as many trans men as trans women, and even more persons who identify as being of non-binary gender. In other words, Showing that there are transgender men highlights that transgender rights are not about the social conservative bogeyman of “allowing men into women’s bathrooms” but instead of letting people live full lives without fear of discrimination through the inclusion in society of all types of women and all types of men and all types of people in between. Every time I am able to point to tangible examples of transgender, gender-variant, intersex, and non-binary-gender persons in the mainstream during a moment of advocacy, I am able to point to real living examples that people can associate with. This saves me a great deal of hand-waving and esoteric thought exercises and lets me focus on the core message that we are all people, all fear for our children, all share the same dreams and aspirations, all buy groceries and pay the same taxes, and all hope that our kids will fare better than we did. And this is a message that has a very difficult time being heard in socially conservative spaces.

For example, in Canada, in the bathroom debates centering around proposed bill C-279 and a proposed amendment that relegates transgender persons to the gender-specific spaces and services of the sex which they were assigned at birth, the narrative presented by social conservative lobbyists and lawmakers is asking for trans men be compelled to used spaces reserved for women in spite of a chorus of opposition by lawmakers, legal experts, and human-rights organizations. Having solid examples of the failures of this mindset helps everyone reflect on the wisdom of that narrative.

Putting a human face on a message of love and tolerance goes very far.

And this will give us a chance to bring up the rest of the sexual-orientation and gender-identity minorities.

Are the amendment to C-279 as widely supported as claimed by Senator Plett

Senator Plett wants to protect women from transgender women – at any cost. Read here for a detailed explanation of what he is proposing.

Central to Mr Plett’s argument in justifying rolling back existing implicit and explicit protection that transgender persons currently enjoy in Canada is his strong belief that Canada must create a law which “…will no longer allow biological males to self-identify as female and gain unrestricted access to sex-specific facilities“. it is important that under current law, what he is trying to do is currently implicitly human rights violation under federal law and all provincial and territorial law in Canada  and an explicit violation of human rights under the law of  Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Ontario, Nova Scotia, Price Edward Island, Newfoundland and Labrador, and the Northwest Territories.

In addition, the Canadian Bar Association (CBA) wrote a letter to the Senate in response to the amendments which were passed in in this sitting of the committee, urging the Senate to “Reject Amendment to Bill C-279“.

As part of their position, the CBA noted that  the amendment:

  • “undermines the Bill’s intent” (is a deliberate poison pill injected by a government attempting to ignore the will of the people),

  • “threatens the human rights of all people using sex or gender specific services, spaces and institutions in federal jurisdiction” (risks being abused in all kinds of terrible ways against us all),

  • “appears to rest primarily on a misapprehension of existing human rights law and criminal provisions” ( opponents fear mongering and do not seem to understand)

…Yet Senator Plett claims in a letter to the editors of the Montreal Gazette chiding them for criticizing his position and claiming that he is in fact NOT excluding transgender persons from gendered space:

“As for the amendment that I assume Ms. Page is referring to when she mistakenly writes about a bathroom “ban”. This misunderstood amendment deals with section 15.1 of the Canadian Human Rights Act, which speaks to exceptions (or where “it is not a discriminatory practice”). This amendment addressed the widespread concern that this bill would have, in fact, allowed any individual to self-identify as the opposite sex and gain unrestricted access to sex-specific facilities on federal jurisdiction (Abused women’s shelters, change rooms, shower rooms, etc.).”

This is in stark contrast with the response that TAS recieved when we asked leading womens organziations for their opinion on the subject:

Trans Alliance Society Chair Morgane oger asked Canadian Women’s Foundation, a prominent Canadian charity working to end violence against women to clarify their position on transgender women in women-only shelters and the answer was affirming and supportive of transgender women:

This exchange is in stark contrast to Senator Plett’s claims that women’s shelters are demanding protection from the apparent deluge of transgender women.

A similar conversation with YWCA Canada, after a wonderful meeting with YWCA Metro Vancouver CEO Janet Austin also provided clear affirmation of the desire by service providers serving women to continue to support transgender women..

Senator Plett has found one witness who actually works in gender-specific support services to support his position.

Is this really enough to represent women?

Certainly not.

For the record: The transcript containing the Senator Plett proposal amending the trans rights bill C-279

Below is the exerpt from the Proceedings of the Standing Senate Committee on Legal and Constitutional Affairs (Issue 27, Evidence – February 25, 2015) during which Senator for Manitoba Don Plett proposed amending the transgender rights bill, derisively dubbed the bathroom bill by social conservative opponents, to exclude transgender persons from using the “correctional facility, crisis counselling facility, shelter for victims of abuse, washroom facility, shower facility or clothing changing room” intended for the gender they identified with.

I urge everyone to read the exchange and hear for yourself what exactly is happening.

Key Participants (in order of speaking):

  1. Senator Don Plett, Senator for Manitoba, appointed by PM Harper (parliamentary profile, political web page) – Manitoba explicitly protects transgender persons in its human rights code.
  2. Senator Grant Mitchell, Senator for Alberta, appointed by PM Chretien (parliamentary profile, political web page) – Alberta explicitly protects transgender persons in its human rights code.
  3. Senator Mobina S.B. Jaffer, Senator for British Columbia, appointed by PM Chretien (parliamentary profile, political web page) – British Columubia implicitly protects transgender persons in its human rights code.

Excerpt from the session

Senator Plett: Thank you. I appreciate that. It is before clause 3. I apologize to you, chair. I have a new clause, just before clause 3, a new clause 2.1.

I move:

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”.

Colleagues, this amendment deals with 15.1(g) of the Canadian Human Rights Act, which is a section dealing with exceptions.

As many of you know, my primary concern, and the issue we continue to hear from concerned citizens, is in respect to sex-specific facilities. We know that gender identity legislation in the jurisdictions that we have implemented it have included terms such as gender fluid, agender, genderqueer and neutros in their interpretation. This amendment will protect those operating sex-specific facilities in federal jurisdiction, for example, bathrooms, military base change rooms and shower rooms, and women’s shelters on First Nations reserves if they decide not to allow, for example, a biological male self-identifying as female into a sex-specific facility for the purpose of protecting vulnerable women.

Colleagues, we have a young girl here, and I spoke to her at the break. She had a concern that this bill would impact her in her school. I explained to her it would not because that school is provincial jurisdiction. This bill, of course, deals only with federal jurisdiction, and so I wanted to assure Charlie that this would in no way impact her at school.

We heard, colleagues, from Susan McLeod from the Siksika Health Services, who was supportive of the bill in principle, that women who have suffered physical or sexual abuse often find the experience of being in the presence of a biological male traumatic. This protection will allow health service providers the flexibility to provide separate but equal treatment for trans women when necessary for the protection of vulnerable shelter residents.

If an individual like Christopher Hambrook, the convicted sex offender who falsely claimed to be transgender to gain access to a women’s shelter in Toronto, were to attempt to gain access to a women’s shelter on a First Nations reserve, this would provide protection for the shelter.

In my opinion, this addition to the exceptions section of the Canadian Human Rights Act will afford those operating sex-specific facilities on federal jurisdiction with a reasonable protection. This will no longer allow biological males to self-identify as female and gain unrestricted access to sex-specific facilities.

This in no way hinders human rights protection for the transgender community. They will still be a recognized group by the Canadian Human Rights Act and will not be able to face discrimination most importantly, and this was raised with me, most importantly, in areas like housing and employment, which I know are two of the greatest concerns for the community.

Colleagues, I hope you will support this amendment.

Senator Mitchell: I will not, and my colleagues will not support this amendment. If I could provide the reasoning for that, I will.

First of all, this act and the human rights legislation and the Criminal Code in this respect are designed specifically to avoid discrimination, and this clause is inherently discriminatory. The very act that is designed to prohibit discrimination is actually being amended in a way that would allow for discrimination. That is the first question.

Second, I’m very pleased that Senator Plett pointed out the distinction between the application of this to the federal jurisdiction and to schools, but it is an interesting distinction that he draws. There is now in I believe five provinces legislation that acknowledges gender identity rights and ergo has jurisdiction over schools. There is no evidence, no case that I am aware of, no case that I expect anyone in this room is aware of, where it has ever been a problem, the question of schools, washrooms, et cetera.

Where this kind of bill, this kind of right, has been applied, i.e., in five provinces, in schools, for example, using the Charlie case, there hasn’t been a problem. In fact, a review of North America experience wherever this kind of right has been extended to transgender people, there has not been any clearly or reliably or credibly documented cases where it has been abused by somebody who has gone into a facility and done something inappropriate.

In fact, it’s interesting to note that the same Michael Crystal who Senator Plett used to defend his amendment with respect to taking the definition of gender identity out, and who was very compelling and actually convinced me that that was the right step, went on in his testimony in a number of ways to say that this amendment, the one before us at this particular moment now, the one with respect to washroom facilities and showers, was not necessary.

I would quote him, as Senator Plett did earlier:

In terms of when Senator Plett raises the issue, let’s say an individual, a brazen trans male, walks into a female washroom, maybe to make a statement, maybe to assert her rights. The question is: Do we turn a blind eye to that act if it is without any disregard to the rights of others?

I say no. I say that is not the way our law works.

The law that exists. That’s not the way the law works now.

In fact, if it’s done with a view to create hysteria, there may even be a criminal complaint.

That’s my point. There is a global approach to these issues, and we should heed that.

He is making the point, and he made it a number of times, the same Michael Crystal who said we need to take the definition of gender identity out, which we have done. He made the point that we do not need to include this washroom/shower facility amendment in this bill. In fact, it complicates matters and will not end up achieving the kind of result that Senator Plett is arguing that it might.

If I can use an analogy, many people who argued against gun control said that lawful, law-abiding gun owners shouldn’t be held accountable for the actions of unlawful, non-law-abiding gun owners. In effect, if you put this amendment in, what you’re saying is lawful, law-abiding transgendered people will be held accountable for somebody who could do something unlawful, inappropriate in a bathroom or washroom facility, for example, who may not even be transgendered, who might not even be aware of this particular right and who might not ever use it. It doesn’t prohibit that.

It holds people who are law abiding, who are fully fledged and should be equal members of our society, accountable for the potential, although it’s a very long-shot potential that somebody would misuse this to try to justify a criminal act. That is the same thing that people who are opposed to gun control argued. It’s exactly the reverse argument they used there, which is why would we hold somebody who is law abiding responsible and accountable for somebody who is not?

It’s for those reasons that I would not support this amendment. I simply believe that it’s not necessary and that it weakens the bill in many ways, even in the ways ultimately that Senator Plett is trying to strengthen it.

Senator Plett: Thank you. I won’t belabour this. I will intervene one time. Senator Mitchell and I talked about this earlier, and we didn’t want to make this a back and forth. I don’t plan on doing that, and I appreciate all of his comments.

I want to just read into the record a few of the comments that Ms. McLeod made from the Siksika First Nation when she was here. She was very clear when she said:

We don’t want to turn away transgendered persons coming to our shelter and our transition house simply because of their gender at birth. We don’t want to do that. But we also recognize the fact that we have to protect women and children.

She went on to say:

The lack of clarity within the legislation makes it difficult for us to establish appropriate services and legal and ethical policies. The clarity would help us to make those definitions and policies at the administrative, front-line level.

We simply want to have the choice on-reserve to have a facility that we can offer to both transgendered individuals and to women and children in separate areas.

The last part of her testimony I’ll read is:

We fully believe it is possible to provide separate treatment facilities for men, women and transgendered individuals within the same facility, and the bill should be amended to allow health administrators to provide service in a manner that helps all and harms none.

Gerald Chipeur was here with Ms. McLeod, and was a constitutional lawyer as well. Senator Baker knows him well. He was here and he felt the opposite of Mr. Crystal, that in fact this amendment was very necessary. Some of the wording that he suggested to me was significantly stronger yet than the wording we came up with at the end. He believed it was very necessary.

Those are my only comments, chair.

Senator Jaffer: Senator Plett, this is the first time I’m seeing the amendment, so may I ask for some clarification so I have a better understanding of it?

One thing that concerns me, and you can correct me because I have not studied it as much as you have, is that we are not clarifying other groups that are discriminated against; we’re just doing it for it trans people, people with gender identity issues. We don’t do it for women and we don’t identify or go further to explain. I have a concern that this is more discriminatory. That’s a bigger concern.

I would like you to explain why you set out just a few facilities. It’s just an example, I get that. Why just a few? “Such as,” it could be “others.” Were you advised, or why did you feel it was necessary to put some facilities there?

Senator Plett: Thank you, senator. Initially, as I just finished explaining, when we talked to Gerry Chipeur he suggested a few others, such as sporting facilities. At one point I had it in the amendment.

My personal feeling, Senator Jaffer, was that the facilities that I am using are the ones where it is most likely for people in vulnerable positions to be exposed to people with biological differences.

Also, in crisis shelters, as Ms. McLeod shared, and I’m not going to quote her, I’ll just say what she shared here at committee and with me that when people come to her crisis centre, they are mostly women. The crisis centre isn’t specific to women, but they’re mostly women. They’re mostly women who have been abused by men.

Her concern was not that if a transgendered individual went there that they were a threat to anyone, but her concern in that particular case was here is a woman who has come to my facility. She has been maybe raped, maybe beaten up, abused by her husband, father, brother, boyfriend, and she sees a biological male and it is a traumatic experience for her. She doesn’t identify that that person is of no danger, that that person is transgendered.

Furthermore, Ms. McLeod said that this transgendered individual could apply to work there. Of course, we are not dealing with the employment issue, but she raised a concern there. She said here is a biological male who will now be helping this woman who is already traumatized, and so she had a concern.

I have raised, as you know, senator, the issue of fully grown men walking into a woman’s shower — and I will use men because I believe they are biological men, transgendered, but biologically they are male — walking into a shower room that has either women or girls in it. Of course it could be the opposite. It can be a biological female, but it seems that it’s more often the earlier one.

Those are the reasons. So I chose, for the amendment, the facilities where I thought people would be the most vulnerable. So these are the ones I chose.

Senator Jaffer: Senator Plett, I very much appreciate your explanation. I know how much work you’ve put on it but, with the greatest of respect, I feel that this is discriminatory. We’re trying to take away the discrimination, and then you are putting it back. That’s my challenge with this.

Senator Plett: I appreciate that. I guess I’m saying that if I feel that my daughter or granddaughter is being discriminated against — if she is not allowed into a facility of her choosing and she’s not. I guess we can go back and forth on that, but I respect your opinion.

The Chair: Is there anything further on this?

Senator Mitchell: I want to thank Senator Jaffer and her intervention, and underline that this particular amendment is deeply troubling to transgendered people. I want to acknowledge here, on the record, the deep pain that it causes them. I would like to say that without going back and forth, I could answer some of the points that Senator Plett has made, but this is not the time to do that. We can do that at third reading as well.

There is another complication. What this clause will require is that a trans man — so somebody who was assigned a woman’s physique at birth, but transitions to a man and is on drug therapy and hasn’t been operated on, and looks as masculine as every man around this table, and, in fact, there are probably trans men in this room who we have no idea, were assigned women’s physiology at birth — will be required to use a woman’s washroom. Somebody who looks absolutely masculine and looks like a man, and who knows that he is a man would, could, be forced under this amendment, to use a woman’s washroom. That would be, it would seem to me, extremely unsettling both to the transgender man and to any women who happened to use that washroom at the time.

So there is this conundrum. I’ll leave it at that and say that while we supported the earlier amendment, we simply will vote against this amendment.

Senator Jaffer: I’m really uncomfortable with this amendment. I feel there is a presumption that a transgender person is in an aggressive position and I especially have great difficulty with the protecting individuals in a vulnerable situation. For me, that is assuming that the transgender person is a threat to people. All that we worked for and all this legislation, it’s all for naught. We say we keep the gender identity, but yet we say that they cannot use some facilities because we see them as the aggressor because we are saying the other people are in a vulnerable situation. I have great difficulty with this amendment.

The Chair: I think that exhausts the conversation surrounding the new clause that Senator Plett has proposed. Senators, is it your pleasure to adopt the motion in amendment?

Some Hon. Senators: Agreed.

Some Hon. Senators: No.

The Chair: On division. The amendment is carried?

Do you want a roll-call vote? I’ll ask the clerk.

Senator Plett: I have been quite under the weather lately and so I apologize.

The Chair: We’re about to have a roll-call vote, Senator Plett.

Shaila Anwar, Clerk of the Committee: The Honourable Senator Runciman.

Senator Runciman: Abstain.

Ms. Anwar: The Honourable Senator Baker, P.C.

Senator Baker: I am against the amendment proposed by Senator Plett.

Ms. Anwar: The Honourable Senator Batters?

Senator Batters: For the amendment.

[Translation]

Ms. Anwar: The Honourable Senator Dagenais?

Senator Dagenais: For the amendment.

[English]

Ms. Anwar: The Honourable Senator Fraser.

Senator Fraser: No.

Ms. Anwar: The Honourable Senator Jaffer.

Senator Jaffer: No.

Ms. Anwar: The Honourable Senator Manning.

Senator Manning: Yes.

Ms. Anwar: The Honourable Senator McInnis.

Senator McInnis: For the amendment.

Ms. Anwar: The Honourable Senator McIntyre.

Senator McIntyre: For the amendment.

Ms. Anwar: The Honourable Senator Mitchell.

Senator Mitchell: Opposed.

Ms. Anwar: The Honourable Senator Plett.

Senator Plett: In favour.

Ms. Anwar: Senator White isn’t here.

Yeas, six; nays, four; abstentions, one.

The Chair: New clause 2.1 is carried. Shall clause 3 carry?

Thank You Letter To MLA S. Chandra Herbert

This letter was sent to MLA S. Chandra Herbert on 04 November, 2014, to thank him for his ongoing support of trans* persons in BC and for specifically supporting the healthcare needs of Transgender and gender-variant persons in BC after the 02 November, 2014 BC Trans Day of Advocacy. Working closely with Trans Alliance Society (TAS) chair Morgane Oger, a transgender advocate and one of the organizers of the day of action event, MLA S. Chandra Herbert further challenged the minister of health by writing a letter asking for a number of changes to medical care for trans* persons in BC including the formation of a provincial-level trans healthcare authority where transgender and gender-variant persons are stakeholder and decision makers rather than just consumers.

From: “Morgane Oger – TAS Chair”
Sent: November-04-14 2:52 PM
To: “Chandra Herbert.MLA, Spencer”
Cc: “chair – TAS” , “secretary – TAS”, “treasurer – TAS”

Subject: re: This is a good day

Fri 11/7/2014 1:53 PM


Good afternoon Mr Chandra Herbert,

I am writing to you as the chair of the Trans Alliance Society (TAS).
As you know, TAS has been working since 2000 to advocate for and support transgender persons in BC and  throughout Canada.
I am happy to share in your satisfaction and voice our gratitude for your tireless efforts in supporting justice and equality for LGBTQ persons in BC. It takes many tireless voices to get change like this implemented and we are making encouraging progress.
The Trans Alliance Society is very much encouraged by the about face announced by Health Minister Terry Lake yesterday. We are especially encouraged by the promise to make a province-wide transgender health program and have it developed via meaningful consultation and oversight from the transgender community.
TAS is well aware that provincial and health officials have made promises to the transgender community before and that a press release is not the same thing as actual change. The transgender community is concerned that the announcement may amount to little more than preemptive firefighting to diffuse the impact of our highly effective BC Trans Advocacy Day Workshop which TAS helped organize for Sunday Nov 2, 2014 where over 100 transgender persons met to decide how we will pressure Government to give us the health care we are due and very badly need.
If there is any opportunity to help Trans Alliance Society get a seat at the table when it is time to discuss oversight, we would be eager to participate in the process. In fact, we believe that the provincial transgender health program needs to be under the authority of a board with at least 50% transgender and gender-variant persons.  Health strategies need to be based on partnerships rather than merely oversight.
We thank you for your long work helping trans people in BC and know you’ll keep up the pressure on the health ministry to ensure that this announcement by the Health Minister turns into actions and results.
(BC trans advocacy day website: http://bctransadvocacyday.com/)
Morgane Oger
Chair, Trans Alliance Society
Vancouver
1-800-825-2405

The Need for explicit inclusion of Gender Identity and Gender Presentation into the BC Human Rights Code

Based on Nov 19 letter to MLA S. Chandra Herbert

A wonderful aspect of being a British Columbian is that we live in a pluralistic society which enshrines the rights of all persons to hold core beliefs without constraint while, at the same time, protecting us from the actions of others that might harm us for who we are.

Every British Columbian has his, her, or their own sense of innate identity – we instinctively know who we are. British Columbians have our individual ideals, our core beliefs, and our own identity. Thanks to the BC Human Rights Cod, we are able to expect to enjoy equal rights and freedoms with full access to the “economic, social, political and cultural life of British Columbia.”

The tangible outcome of the BC human rights code is that persons in BC are protected against discrimination based on race, colour, ancestry, place of origin, religion, marital status, family status, physical or mental disability, sex, sexual orientation or age.

 

To help protect us, British Columbians rely on public knowledge of the code to stop others from doing actions that we all know are forbidden by the code. We rely on persons around us to help us thanks to their own knowledge of the equal rights afforded by the code. As a result, adding a protected classification into the code serves as more than a guide for a court of law but also as a teacher for British Columbians.

Yet something is missing. Today, gender identity and gender presentation are not classifications that are explicitly protected from discrimination. When physical ability and age were added to the protected classifications of the BC Human Rights Code, it was a signal to all of us that as a society, British Columbians agree to make accommodations such as curb cuts or braille in elevators. We all agreed that age was not an acceptable cause of dismissal from your job.

As a province, British Columbia agreed to explicitly state that British Columbians care about the ability of all British Columbians to fully live their lives in BC and wish to see this ability protected and enforced through law.

But more needs to be done in order to protect all British Columbians. Unacceptably often, transgender and gender-variant persons in BC find themselves squeezed between societal norms and the letter of the law.  Because the law does not explicitly name gender identity or gender presentation to the list of protected classifications, the situation today is that people are surprised to learn that it is unlawful to refuse housing to a transgender person because of their gender identity.

Even though they are protected by the law, transgender and gender-variant British Columbians are forced to fight for fairness on their own and at their own expense because many British Columbians are unaware about the reach of the human rights code in the context of sex discrimination.

This is unfair. It is unfair to ask people to start a human rights complaint every time an employer discriminates unknowingly. It is unfair to ask somebody to challenge police on their actions when the officer doing an infraction is unaware of the subtleties of the law in this regard. It is simply wrong to ask marginalized persons to advocate for their basic human rights. The BC Human Rights Code must be amended to explicitly include gender identity and gender presentation as protected classifications in the BC Human Rights Code.

In fact, in October 2014 parents have launched a challenge in BC supreme court against the Vancouver School Board’s implementation of sexual orientation and gender identity guidelines. These guidelines were specifically written in order to answer criticism that their old guidelines did not go far enough to answer the demands of the law when accommodating transgender persons.

Such avoidable challenges are expensive and draining on our legal system and illustrate the disconnection between public perception and the rule of law when gender identity is protected in a judgment but not specifically named in the law.

The consequences of this lack of knowledge by British Columbians include repeated infraction, incomplete protection, unnecessary court proceedings, and poor enforcement.

It also results in marginalization and real harm

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 trans 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.

Explicitly including protection for gender identity and gender presentation in the BC human rights code will assure transgender and gender-variant persons have access to services on an equal level playing field as is intended for British Columbians who pride themselves on pluralistic values.

Morgane Oger
Chair
Trans Alliance Society