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Another article in the Wpg Free Press

A lengthy article,  A life reclaimed: The final symbolic step of transitioning appeared in the Winnipeg Free Press recently.

Last year, Manitoba saw a spike in the number of people seeking to change their sex, at least on paper.

For most of the last five years, only nine Manitobans asked Vital Statistics to change the male or female gender marker on their birth certificate, typically the last step in someone’s transition.

In 2013, that number jumped to 21, with most people transitioning from female to male.

As part of a joint project between the Winnipeg Free Press and Red River College’s creative communications program, student journalists profiled three people in various stages of transitioning.  Their stories follow below.

The three described a system that is considerably better than it was, but still forces trans people to travel outside the province for some surgeries, still saddles them with big bills and still imposes wait times that can be tortuous.

Support group meeting moved to April 25

Due to Good Friday, our regular monthly meeting will be delayed a week to April 25th.

Bill C-279 passes in the House of Commons!

Bill C-279 was passed at third reading in the House of Commons. It now goes to the Senate.

This bill adds “gender identity” to our federal human rights protections and to our hate crime legislation.

From the Canadian Press:

A bill that would make it illegal to discriminate against transgender Canadians was approved by the House of Commons on Wednesday.

The Opposition private member’s legislation passed by a vote of 149-137, with the crucial support of 18 Conservatives, including four cabinet ministers.

[Foreign Affairs Minister John] Baird, Finance Minister Jim Flaherty, Labour Minister Lisa Raitt and Heritage Minister James Moore were among the Conservatives who supported the bill. [Ed. - St. Boniface MP Shelley Glover also supported the bill.] Prime Minister Stephen Harper, most of his front bench and the vast majority of his backbenchers opposed it.

Opposition parties were united in their support for the bill, sponsored by New Democrat Randall Garrison.

Unfortunately, coverage of “gender expression” was dropped from the final version to address concerns that the term is not well defined.

To see how your MP voted check here.

Article in Wpg Free Press

A 4-page article, For Winnipeg’s transgender community, journey to a new identity is life-affirming, featuring some local trans folk, health care providers, and insights from the recent CPATH conference appeared in the Winnipeg Free Press recently.

For Winnipeg’s transgender community, journey to a new identity is life-affirming

Bill C-279 passes second reading!

Bill C-279 has passed its first vote in the House of Commons.  It now goes to the Justice Committee for amendments before a final vote in the House.

This bill would add “gender identity and gender expression” to our federal human rights protections and to our hate crime legislation. Unfortunately, the bill’s sponsor has suggested that “gender expression” might be dropped in the final version to address concerns that the term is not well defined.

To see how your MP voted check here.  Most of the Opposition members were in support, and a small but growing number of Conservative MPs were in favour as well.

Bill C-279 is essentially a restating of Bill C-389 from the previous Parliament that was passed by the House but died in the Senate with the fall of the minority government.

The text of the bill can be found here.

More info about the bill and its future can be found in this article from Xtra.

Manitoba to add “gender identity” to human rights code

The provincial government has introduced legislation that would explicitly ban discrimination based on “gender identity”.

The press release:

May 23, 2012

PROVINCE MOVES TO STRENGTHEN HUMAN RIGHTS CODE

– – –
Changes Would Further Protect Manitobans from Discrimination, Streamline Resolution Process: Swan

Changes to Manitoba’s Human Rights Code would ensure Manitobans are further protected from discrimination based on gender identity and disadvantaged social status, while improving the process by which complaints are addressed, Justice Minister Andrew Swan announced today, after introducing the amendments.

“Manitoba’s human rights legislation was ahead of its time 25 years ago when protection from discrimination based on sexual orientation was added to the code,” said Swan.  “These changes will build on that legacy and ensure the commission has the tools it needs to effectively address current and emerging challenges.”

Proposed changes to the code would specifically prohibit discrimination based on:

  • gender identity, further protecting transgender Manitobans, and
  • social disadvantage, further protecting individuals who are, or are perceived to be undereducated, underemployed, homeless or living in inadequate housing.

The minister noted the proposed change to include gender identity is similar to legislation recently introduced in the Ontario legislature.

“The Manitoba Bar Association (MBA) believes there is a need for better legal protection for transgender Manitobans.  Transgender Manitobans are a minority who can suffer discrimination,” said Josh Weinstein, president, MBA.  “In 2010, the Canadian Bar Association Council unanimously passed a resolution encouraging all provincial and territorial governments across Canada to amend human rights laws to better protect transgender individuals and I’m pleased to see the Manitoba government taking a major step forward in this regard.”

“Socially disadvantaged Manitobans should not face additional barriers when they are trying to get ahead,” said Floyd Perras, executive director of Siloam Mission.  “We welcome these changes because we’ve seen first-hand the positive contributions made by people from all walks of life.”

“This is a very progressive approach,” said Jerry Woods, chair of the Manitoba Human Rights board of commissioners.  “The Human Rights Code recognizes the individual worth and dignity of every member of the human family and the new grounds will help the commission address prejudice against some of the most vulnerable individuals and groups in this province.”

Other changes to the Human Rights Code would improve and streamline services to the public by:

  • expanding mediation provisions,
  • allowing for joint Manitoba Human Rights Commission proceedings on similar complaints, and
  • allowing the commission to sit in smaller panels to make decisions.

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Ontario ruling: allow gender change without surgery

Xtra is reporting:

In what a London lawyer is calling a “game-changing decision,” the Ontario Human Rights Tribunal has struck down a rule that required trans people to undergo “transsexual surgery” in order to change the sex category on their birth certificates.

Released April 11, the 95-page decision follows a challenge by one trans woman who complained she was discriminated against because she could not change her legal documents unless she had surgery.

The tribunal found that the Vital Statistics Act requirement of “transsexual surgery” prior to changing the sex designation on a birth certificate discriminates against trans people, she says. The provincial government has been ordered to remove this stipulation.

Whether this  means anything for the situation in Manitoba remains to be seen, though one person involved in the Ontario case says

[this] precedent-setting decision could force changes to legislation in other provinces and territories

WPATH updates their Standards of Care

Highlights and commentary from GID Reform:

The World Professional Association for Transgender Health (WPATH) released it’s 7th Version of Standards of Care for the Health of Transsexual, Transgender, and Gender Nonconforming People (SOC) in Atlanta today. The previous Version 6 was published in 2001. Overall, this newest SOC represents significant forward progress in respecting trans people and affirming the necessity of medical transition care for trans and transsexual individuals who need it.

View the SOC 7 here.

Name changes to require fingerprinting by police

Province of Manitoba news release:

May 5, 2011

NEW RULES WOULD MEAN CRIMINALS COULD NOT HIDE BEHIND LEGAL CHANGE OF NAME
– – –
Fingerprints Would Link Changes of Name to Criminal Records: Mackintosh

The province would provide police with greater certainty in the protection of all Manitobans by requiring applicants for changes of name to undergo fingerprinting, Family Services and Consumer Affairs Minister Gord Mackintosh announced today.

“You can run but you can’t hide is the intent of this rule,” Mackintosh said. “It will reduce the risk of criminals, including sex offenders, organized crime associates and fraudsters, changing their names, disappearing into new locations unknown to police and justice officials with what appears to be a clear criminal record. It will also better guard against innocent people being linked to a person with a criminal record.”

The new rules would require name-change applicants to submit to fingerprinting at designated law enforcement agencies throughout the province. Those agencies would forward the fingerprints and name-change information to the RCMP. If there is a match, the new name would be added to the individual’s criminal record. If there is no match, the fingerprints would be destroyed.

The new fingerprint rules, similar to those in B.C. and Alberta, would not apply to name changes resulting from marriages or divorces. Manitoba’s rules would include youth but the province has asked for recommendations from senior officials on how they should apply to a youth who is changing a name.

In exceptional circumstances, the fingerprint requirement would be waived when, for example, a name change is sought to ensure confidentiality for victims of domestic violence or stalking, the minister said.

“No longer will child sex offenders be able to hide their previous criminal histories when they are screened for employment or volunteer opportunities. We applaud the Manitoba government for closing this loophole which will better protect Manitoba’s children,” said Lianna MacDonald, executive director of the Canadian Centre for Child Protection.

“This new rule would ensure those attempting to elude detection through name changes will come to the attention of the RCMP when being dealt with in our communities,” said Assistant Commissioner Bill Robinson, commanding officer of RCMP ‘D’ Division. “The ability for the RCMP to quickly and accurately identify offenders and those participating in criminal activities who have criminal records is crucially important to law enforcement agencies in Manitoba and across Canada. As the commanding officer of the RCMP in Manitoba, I am very pleased that this change has been introduced.”

“The Winnipeg Police Service supports this change as it targets offenders and protects the public and those most vulnerable,” said Winnipeg Police Chief Keith McCaskill. “This is a valuable step in the right direction and we encourage other jurisdictions to follow suit.

“All Canadian jurisdictions are examining the name-change process and Manitoba will be among the first provinces to introduce these much-needed changes to ensure criminals do not hide behind new names,” Mackintosh concluded.

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Canadian Bar Association supports trans rights

At its August 2010 meeting, the Canadian Bar Association adopted a resolution in support of Equality for All Regardless of Gender Identity and Gender Expression:

BE IT RESOLVED THAT the Canadian Bar Association urge the federal, provincial and territorial governments to review their legislation and policies, especially human rights legislation and hate crimes under the Criminal Code, and make amendments necessary to protect individuals from discrimination on the basis of gender identity and gender expression.