Letters to the Editor
The Toronto Star
1 Yonge Street
Toronto ON M5E 1E6
VIA E-MAIL: firstname.lastname@example.org
Recent references to a transgender person in a column and in letters to the editor are of concern to the Ontario Human Rights Commission, because they advance some common misinformation that has caused serious harm to the transgender community.
First, let me be clear – unwanted sexual behaviour is never acceptable. We all have the right to be free from this, and we have a responsibility to report it when it happens.
At the same time, look at the reality for the transgender community. There is a stereotype of connecting transgender people with wrongdoing and being sexual predators. We have never seen a documented case of a heterosexual man gaining access to a woman’s change room by posing as transgender. In fact, in washrooms and changerooms, and in society at large, transgender persons are more at risk than anyone else of being harassed, abused, assaulted, or even killed.
Also, there is no new transgender “bathroom” policy. For more than 15 years, transgender people in Ontario have had the legal right to use the washroom – or changeroom – according to their lived gender identity. The elected Ontario legislature, not the human rights tribunal, put these laws in place. These laws were reinforced by Toby’s Act, in June 2012.
We also see continued calls to segrate transgender people into separate bathroom and changing spaces, for the good of the larger majority. This is a practice based on fear and stereotypes, and is exactly opposite the vision of Ontario’s Human Rights Code, which is to build an Ontario based on inclusion, where everyone feels a part of and is able to contribute to the community.
The Ontario Human Rights Code exists to benefit all Ontarians, including transgender people, who often have a daily battle to overcome the barriers that misunderstanding, fear and intolerance cause.
Ontario Human Rights Commission