The Power of Perspectives

The Canadian Bar Association

CBA/ABC National

Protecting the non-default position on gender identity

December 2 2016 2 December 2016

If you’re cis-gendered, chances are that somebody in the past 10 years has had to explain that term to you – and chances are equally good that you asked why the term was necessary, because to embody the gender you’re born with is generally the default human condition. It’s all those other people who are living hyphenated lives.

That may be true, but it’s just as true that the cis-gendered mayn’t have the first clue of how difficult life can be when you’re not the default, and the law doesn’t protect your difference.

The Nunavut Branch of the CBA, along with the Association’s Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity Community Forum, have written to the Nunavut government asking that it amend the territory’s Human Rights Act to include both gender identity and gender expression as prohibited grounds of discrimination.

Nunavut, Yukon, New Brunswick and the federal government protect neither gender identity nor gender expression. Saskatchewan, Manitoba and the Northwest Territories protect gender identity. British Columbia, Alberta, Ontario, Quebec, Nova Scotia, P.E.I., and Newfoundland and Labrador protect one or the other, or both.

In Ottawa, Bill C-16, which would amend the Canadian Human Rights Act and the Criminal Code to add both gender identity and gender expression to the list of prohibited grounds of discrimination, is making its way through Parliament.

“Nunavummiut who are transgender should have the same right to live a full and productive life, free of discrimination,” the letter says. “Amendments to the Nunavut Human Rights Act will serve as a preventative measure, denouncing and dissuading discrimination and prejudice against transgender individuals.”

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