Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Transgender Rights in the OHRC

The Trans community is a vast and diverse one; however those who fall under the Trans umbrella are one of the most discriminated communities in the world. To help combat discrimination Trans people and the OHRC took the stance that transgender people have the right to be free from harassment and discrimination. In the year of 2000 the OHRC introduced the avant-garde Policy on discrimination and harassment because of gender identity. This policy has done wonders for the transgender community, however it was drafted in the year 2000 so the terminology is outdated, and because of this the OHRC revised the policy as of April 14, 2014. The revision includes new terminology and definitions to remove language barriers. The new terminology and definitions can be found in section 3 of the Policy on preventing discrimination because of Gender Identity and Gender Expression. [1]
                The policy’s main focus is that everyone has the right to live free of discrimination regardless of their Gender Identity and/or Gender Expression. Due to the policy Trans people are afforded protection against discrimination and harassment based on Gender Identity and Gender Expression in five social areas. These five areas include: receiving goods and services, occupying housing accommodations, entering into contracts with others, employment, and joining/ belonging to an association.[2]
                The OHRC is also very adamant that all people have the right to define their own gender identity. Defining one’s own gender identity is considered part of the basic aspects of dignity and freedom. It is also stated that for all purposes a person should be treated based on their lived gender identity, or the gender identity they identify as, no matter if they’re gender identity differs from their birth assigned sex/gender.[3]
                Another aspect of the Policy is the duty to accommodate. There are two equally important parts of the duty to accommodate. They are the procedural component and the substantive component; this means the process of accommodating and the actual accommodations themselves.[4] The duty to accommodate is also broken down into basic principles which include, respect for dignity, individualization, integration and full participation, and inclusive design.[5] Both parties of the accommodation process have certain roles and responsibilities:
            “The person seeking accommodation is responsible for:
·         Telling the accommodation provider (employer, landlord, service provider, etc.) when they have Code-related needs that require accommodation
·         Providing information relevant to their needs and meeting any agreed-upon standards once accommodation has been provided
·         Cooperating in the accommodation process to the best of their ability.

Accommodation providers are responsible for:
·         Accepting requests for accommodation in good faith (unless there is evidence the request is not genuine)
·         Making reasonable requests for only information that is necessary to clarify the nature and extent of the accommodation needed for the situation
·         Making sure that information related to accommodation is kept confidential and shared only with people who need the information for their role in implementing the accommodation
·         Acting in a timely way and taking an active role in looking for solutions
·         Covering any appropriate costs related to the accommodation.” [6]

This policy will assist in the trans community being better understood and accommodated in our current day society.  It is important that the policy be read to fully understand its compliance mandates (including responsibilities of all parties).  The policy can be found at: Ontario Human Rights .

[1] (See section 3) http://www.ohrc.on.ca/en/policy-preventing-discrimination-because-gender-identity-and-gender-expression
[2] (See section 5) http://www.ohrc.on.ca/en/policy-preventing-discrimination-because-gender-identity-and-gender-expression

[3] (See section 6.3) http://www.ohrc.on.ca/en/policy-preventing-discrimination-because-gender-identity-and-gender-expression/6-ontario%E2%80%99s-human-rights-code
[4] (See section 8.1) http://www.ohrc.on.ca/en/policy-preventing-discrimination-because-gender-identity-and-gender-expression/8-duty-accommodate
[5] (See sections 8.2.1/8.2.4) http://www.ohrc.on.ca/en/policy-preventing-discrimination-because-gender-identity-and-gender-expression/8-duty-accommodate
[6] (See section 8.3) http://www.ohrc.on.ca/en/policy-preventing-discrimination-because-gender-identity-and-gender-expression/8-duty-accommodate