Ontario Federation of Labour

Ontario Federation of Labour

November 20, 2013 06:00 ET

Issuing a Universal Call for Trans Human Rights: OFL Statement on the Transgender Day of Remembrance, November 20, 2013

TORONTO, ONTARIO--(Marketwired - Nov. 20, 2013) - Every year, November 20 is recognized around the world as the Transgender Day of Remembrance (TDoR). It is meant as a day to challenge prejudice and hatred, to memorialize those who have been killed as a result of anti-transgender violence and to ensure that their names are not forgotten. The day is also dedicated to raising public awareness about hate crimes committed against transgender people and the discrimination, harassment and violence that is too often a part of their daily lives. Vigils are held around the world to express love and respect for transgender people in the face of national indifference and hatred. For a full list see www.transgenderdor.org.

The gender identities of trans-identified people often don't conform to broader societal expectations, forcing them to live at the intersection of systemic oppressions. For transwomen and people who are racialized or have a disability, transmisogyny, racism and other forms of hatred can fuel additional stigmatization, harassment and violence.

Transgender people experience significant harassment and discrimination in education, employment, housing and access to services. As a result, they are more likely to experience acute economic insecurity, homelessness, and poor health while facing significant barriers to receiving updated identification documents which are often vital for accessing government support.

"Ontario society has a long way to go before the transgender community can stand shoulder-to-shoulder with gender-conforming people and proclaim that they have equal access to social equality and justice," said OFL President Sid Ryan.

In Canada, we know that 20 percent of trans people have been physically or sexually assaulted because they are trans and a further 34 percent have experienced verbal harassment or threats. To put an end to this heinous violence, we must collectively call on the Senate and the federal government to pass Bill C-279, Act to amend the Canadian Human Rights Act and the Criminal Code (gender identity). This Bill would add "gender identity and gender expression" to the Canadian Human Rights Code, as well as the hate crime sentencing provisions of the Criminal Code.

In Ontario, due to the work of courageous transactivists and human rights advocates, and the strong support of the Ontario NDP, Bill 33, the Right to be Free from Discrimination and Harassment Because of Gender Identity or Gender Expression Act, 2012 (commonly known as "Toby's Act"), was finally passed into law in June 2012.

"Legislative change is an important step, but it is only one of many steps to achieving true social and economic equality for the LGBTQ community," said Ryan. "With laws that reflect our inclusive values, the responsibility lies with each of us to create positive space and challenge homophobia and transphobia, and other forms of discrimination such as racism, sexism, ableism, and classism."

The Ontario Human Rights Tribunal ruled in April, 2012 that the Government of Ontario's regulations on changing the designated gender on a birth certificate requiring complete gender reassignment surgery were discriminatory. This historic ruling means that, as of October 2012, applications only require a signed declaration and a note from a doctor or psychologist. The only caveat for changing a birth certificate is that the applicant must be 18 years of age.

"We continue to gather for the International Transgender Day of Remembrance to celebrate the lives of the trans people who are killed each year by those who harbour fear and hatred. We must work together to educate and help others understand transgender identities to bring an end to the ignorance and fear that is at the root of transphobia," said OFL Secretary-Treasurer Nancy Hutchison. "Let us work together to create a just society in which all people are respected, accepted and welcomed without prejudice based on gender identity or expression, sexual orientation, race, ethnicity, social class, economic situation, ability, or age."

On this day, The Ontario Federation of Labour adds the voice of over one million unionized workers to those around the world who are joining the European Parliament in calling upon the World Health Organization to stop classifying transsexual people as mentally ill. Transgendered people must receive the medical help they need to transition without depending on a mental health diagnosis that serves to stigmatize and facilitate further violence.

Visit www.OFL.ca and follow the OFL on Facebook and Twitter: @OFLabour

Contact Information

  • Nancy Hutchison
    OFL Secretary Treasurer
    647.403.9799 (mobile)

    Joel Duff
    OFL Communications Director
    416.443.7665 or 416.707.0349 (mobile)
    www.OFL.ca