Trans* Rights to be Protected in SK Human Rights Code
Released on December 2, 2014
The Government of Saskatchewan has announced its plan to include “gender identity” as a prohibited grounds for discrimination in an act to amend to the Saskatchewan Human Rights Code.
“These changes will expand on the protections that already exist for members of the lesbian, gay and transgender community in this province,” said Justice Minister and Attorney General Gordon Wyant in a news release on Tuesday.
Gender identity is linked to a person’s sense of self and how they perceive their own gender as a man, woman or one of many non-binary gender identities such as gender-fluid or genderqueer. A person’s gender identity may be different from their birth-assigned sex, as is the case for people who identify as transgender.
Joe Wickenhauser, Chair of Moose Jaw Pride, said the proposed amendment has promise for meaningful change. “We are very happy to see the government take this important first step in acknowledging transphobic discrimination in Saskatchewan and committing to do better.”
Wickenhauser credits the proposed changes to organizations like TransSask Support Services, the Avenue Community Centre and the Saskatchewan Human Rights Commission as well as to everyday people who have written letters to government and attended events. “This is what can happen when we get organized, stand together and unite our voices in a call for change,” Wickenhauser said.
In Moose Jaw, Transgender Awareness Week has been proclaimed annually since 2012 and Transgender Day of Remembrance was observed for the first time this year. The mission statement of Moose Jaw Pride explicitly includes celebrating gender diversity with many of its Pride Week events geared towards educating about and creating a positive space for gender diversity.
Earlier this year, community members in Moose Jaw also participated in the Time 4 Rights campaign, which sought the explicit recognition of gender expression and gender identity in the Saskatchewan Human Rights Code. The amendments proposed on Tuesday do not explicitly recognize discrimination based on gender expression nor do they protect individuals with intersex bodies.
Gender expression refers to the external attributes, behaviour, appearance, dress, etc. by which people express themselves and through which others perceive that person’s gender. The term “intersex” refers to people whose biological sex cannot be classified as clearly male or female due to genetic, chromosomal or hormonal variations.
Wickenhauser said that significant work will need to be done in Moose Jaw to provide education on gender and sexual diversity to ensure that individuals, businesses, schools and other organizations comply with the proposed legislation. Many transgender people in Saskatchewan still lack appropriate medical and support services, regularly face discrimination in housing, employment and education and struggle to obtain official documentation recognizing their preferred name or gender.
For those looking for more information about gender identity or to get involved in community initiatives in Moose Jaw, Wickenhauser asks people to visit the Moose Jaw Pride Facebook page, attend Pride Week events or get involved in the Pride Week Planning Committees which are open to the public.
Moose Jaw Pride Inc.