Cisgender Nights In Canada

Some trans-related goings-on in Canada.

1) Newfoundland declines to include rights for trans people.

2) Quebecers rally regarding identification change issues.

3) Is the opinion of the Canadian wing of loudly trans-inclusive international LGBT organization on trans rights: it’s “not our hill to die on?”

4) Toronto City Council candidate participating in Trans March.

The Province of Newfoundland is updating its human rights charter.  The proposals include adding specific protections for pregnant women, people who’ve been disfigured, and ex-convicts (which I’d support, even the controversial ex-convicts entry with a few possible caveats, since the inability to integrate back into society only leads to a self-perpetuating cycle of crime and incarceration if only for survival’s sake).

One inclusion that’s not raising controversy is transgender people.  That’s because gender identity and gender expression are not in the proposal at all.  From a letter by the NL Gender Identity Working Group:

A range of community organizations including the Public Service Alliance of Canada (PSAC), Planned Parenthood, Newfoundland-Labrador Human Rights and Gender Identity Working Group, Newfoundland and Labrador Sexual Assault Crisis and Prevention Centre, Canadian Professional Association for Transgender Health, and others have endorsed the recommendation that ‘gender identity’ be added as a prohibited ground of discrimination under the Act.

It is now more vital than ever that governments and human rights commissions take action to end violence and discrimination against transgender persons. Studies report that an average of 2 transgendered persons are reported killed every month in North America, simply because they were transgendered. A US survey released in November reported that transgender persons experience double the rate of unemployment; 47% experienced adverse job action (i.e. denied promotions, refusal to hire); while 26% had lost a job because of their transgender status. 97% of those surveyed experienced harassment and mistreatment on the job because of their status. Earlier this month, Statistics Canada reported a doubling in the number of hate crimes based on sexual orientation in this country.

There may not be much time to act on this one since third reading is immediately forthcoming (or may have even taken place by the time this is posted — will update at my DBM blog if there is any further news), but they are asking that people write to the Minister of Justice, calling for the provincial government to address the omission (and copy all correspondence to Newfoundland-Labrador Human Rights and Gender Identity Working Group):

Hon. Felix Collins, Minister of Justice
Tel: (709) 729-2869
Fax: (709) 729-0469

And CC’ed to:
Yvonne Jones, Leader of the Official Opposition (Liberal)
Phone: (709) 729-3391
Fax: (709) 729-5202
Toll Free: 1-800-286-9118

Lorraine Michael, Leader, Newfoundland and Labrador New Democrats
Phone: (709) 729-0270
Fax: (709) 576-1443


On June 17th, over 100 Quebec trans folk and allies organized by PolitiQ gathered to protest for a better process to change one’s legal name and gender marker.  Some of the issues raised at the petition site include:

Trans people who want to change the designation of sex on their birth certificate are required to undergo “medical treatments and surgical operations involving a structural modification of sexual organs intended to change [their] sexual characteristics” – in other words, sterilization. Even though the Director of Civil Status does not explicitly require trans people to be sterile in order to change their designation of sex, these conditions necessarily involve forced sterilization of trans people.

Trans people who want to change their name in under five years must obtain a psychiatric diagnosis of gender identity disorder and begin medical procedures to change their sexual characteristics. Trans people who do not want to undergo medical procedures must live an additional five years under the name assigned at birth.

Trans people who are unwilling or (because of financial, health, or other issues) unable to undergo these physical modifications have a civil identity that does not concord with their real identity.

Trans people who are not Canadian citizens are also condemned to a situation where the identity listed on their civil status documents do not reflect their real identity. Article 71 of the Québec Civil Code requires Canadian citizenship, among other conditions, for a legal change of name or sex designation. Obtaining Canadian citizenship can take years.

Trans people who have children before changing their sex designation cannot change the gender they are assigned on their children’s birth certificate. For example, Nicole may be Nicolas’s mother, but she will still be listed as “father” on his birth certificate. This rule is a leftover from legal homophobia, reflecting the fact that until recently, children could not have two parents of the same gender. Now that same-gender parents are accepted, trans people should be able to change the term listed on their children’s birth certificates.


I’m told by a frustrated community ally that attempts to rally the Canadian arm of a loudly trans-inclusive LGBT organization to lobby for trans rights as proposed in Bill C-389 — or at the very least inform members that the Bill is in progress so that they might call their MPs — have fallen on deaf ears.  According to one member, who might not speak for the organization, basic human rights for trans people are “not our hill to die on” and that people can lobby on their own, but the org can’t do anything. I’m declining to name the organization solely out of respect for the person who informed me, since she has done excellent work for the trans community, trans families and this organization as well, and I don’t want to damage any of her future efforts.  This also still opens the possibility for the organization in question to answer differently in an official capacity.

What is being given as justification for not giving a whit about Bill C-389 is that it might damage the organization’s charitable status.  In Canada, if a non-profit is deemed political, it cannot be registered as a charitable organization or issue receipts qualifying for a tax refund.

But in fact, Revenue Canada established an allowable limit of political lobbying at:

political activities that, when ancillary and incidental to a charities established purposes, are permitted within expenditure limits (i.e. under 10% of an organization’s resources)

And while the testing of that allowance has fluctuated somewhat in the courts and there has been some movement by Revenue Canada so that the line isn’t as clear anymore, charities do have a bit of wiggle room with regards to political issues directly affiliated with their mandate.  Certainly, the Canada Family Action Coalition, REAL Women of Canada or (a news agency started and operated — possibly with a degree of separation — by Campaign Life Coalition) have been exploiting this to directly and indirectly lobby against the proposed legislation. (And other LGBT / womens’ rights / cultural issues, for that matter — how much leeway is that exemption supposed to give, again?)

Is this another example of LGB dumping the T?  Gay/Lesbian organizations, media and allies are yet again invited to let me know otherwise, and I will trumpet their support in this blog.  I’m less concerned about flogging old grudges and more interested in seeing something done.  Will you join us now?


Susan Gapka & her Campaign Team plan to participate in the Toronto Pride Week’s Trans March.  If any of my readers are in attendance, I’d encourage them to say hi.  Gapka, who is running for Toronto City Council in Ward 27 Toronto Centre Rosedale, is one of two candidates who, if successful, would be the first known elected trans public official in Canadian history (the other being Enza Anderson, who I haven’t met; both are running in the same riding).

I’m hoping at some point she (or someone) can enlighten me about the conflicting reports coming about what is happening to the Trans March and events amidst the ongoing issues at Toronto Pride planning?

Toronto, meanwhile, is bracing for the G20 summit, and enduring the typical “urban sanitization” that typically happens in preparation for international events, such as arrests / evictions / harrassment of the homeless and “embarassing” communities like trans and queer folks.

There’s lots happening so far this June, and obviously more to come.

Crossposted to The Spectrum Cafe

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