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Trans rights bill still stuck in the Senate

More than a year after it passed in the House of Commons, Bill C-279 has still not passed in the Senate, thus preventing it from becoming law.

The Bill, which would add “gender identity” to the Canadian human rights code and also make it an identifiable class under the hate crime section of the Criminal Code, recently passed second reading and is now at the committee stage (the last step before third and final reading.)

Some observers are optimistic the bill will be passed soon:

Human-rights groups remain confident that the majority of senators agree that it is important to support Bill C-279. That will be reinforced by compelling testimony the Senate committee will hear about the struggles of transgender individuals for security and equality across Canada.

While others, including its author, are conceding the bill is dead:

You know that classic Charlie Brown gag where he tries to kick a football that Lucy is holding, only to have it pulled away at the last second as he lands flat on his back?

The feeling must be a familiar one for the transgender community in Canada, as the government has—once again—thwarted efforts to protect them from discrimination and hate crimes.

The bill, now known as C-279, has been around for more than a decade. Colloquially, it’s known as the trans rights act, and it was nearly passed through parliament.

But thanks to the work of two unelected Senators and the inner machinations of the Harper government, the bill has been stuck. And proponents are not optimistic.

“It’s dead,” Randall Garrison, the Member of Parliament championing the bill, told me. “I’ve given up hope.”

The football has been pulled away. Again.


Visit to send a letter to the Senate urging them to vote in favour of Bill C-279, the Gender Identity Bill.