The OHRC’s voice on gender identity and gender expression continues to be amplified by communities across Ontario, and by governments across Canada.
Seeing results – changes on identity documents
In Spring 2016, the Ministry of Government and Consumer Services launched a major consultation on storing and sharing name and sex designation change information.
In our May 2016 submission, we stated our ongoing concerns that the Ministry’s current system for storing information on names and sex designations discriminated against trans persons and violated the Code.
The government is launching a new policy in Spring 2017.
Respecting gender identity in the dressing room: J.T. and Ontario Human Rights Commission v. Hockey Canada
In September 2016, Hockey Canada’s Ontario branches posted transgender inclusive policies in time for the 2016-17 hockey season. This step was part of a settlement between Hockey Canada, on behalf of its Ontario members, the OHRC and Jesse Thompson, a trans teenaged boy who played amateur hockey and courageously decided to take on the system.
In 2013, Thompson filed a human rights application at the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario against Hockey Canada alleging discrimination in services based on gender identity. As an amateur hockey player, he was denied access to the boys’ locker room, which he alleged “outed” him and exposed him to harassment and bullying. The Human Rights Legal Support Centre represented him, and OHRC intervened in the case.
The new policies create a more trans-inclusive environment by upholding the human rights of transgender and gender-diverse players. Players who identify as trans can use the dressing room corresponding to their gender identity, be addressed by their preferred name and pronoun, and have the privacy and confidentiality of their transgender status respected.
As well, Hockey Canada’s Ontario branches have agreed to deliver training on the policies to more than 30,000 coaches and trainers in Ontario.
“Jesse’s courage and passion for justice inspired us all. His determination shows how much one person’s struggle can transform lives for the future.”
- Melissa Mark, Jesse’s lawyer from the Human Rights Legal Support Centre, @HRlegalhelp
OHRC recognized as leader in the field
In June 2016, Toronto’s The 519 Church Street Community Centre launched a companion-resource to the OHRC’s Policy on preventing discrimination because of gender identity and gender expression. “Creating Authentic Spaces, A Gender Identity and Gender Expression Toolkit to Support the Implementation of Institutional and Social Change” includes information and resources to make spaces more welcoming and supportive to people of all gender identities.
In November 2016, the OHRC released Questions and answers about gender identity and pronouns in response to widespread misinformation about related obligations under the Code. The OHRC stated: “The words people use to describe themselves and others are very important. The right terms can affirm identities and challenge discriminatory attitudes. The wrong ones can disempower, demean and reinforce exclusion.”
In December 2016, Canada’s then-Correctional Investigator Howard Sapers called on Correctional Services Canada to revamp its policies on placement based on gender identity and gender reassignment surgery. He cited Ontario as the first province to take look at these issues, and as a leader in respecting human rights based on gender identity in its prisons. He called for the federal system to follow Ontario’s lead and move from housing prisoners based on genitalia to housing them based on their lived gender identity.
And in March 2017, the Nunavut government voted unanimously to include gender identity and gender expression to the territory’s Human Rights Act. In discussions in the legislature, Justice Minister Keith Peterson cited the OHRC, as one of the first provinces or territories in Canada to take this step.
Taking gender identity to @Twitter:
- 34,700 impressions in November 2016
- 15,800 impressions in September 2016