Ontario Human Rights Commission launches policy on gender identity, gender expression

The Ontario Human Rights Commission released a new policy around the rights of trans individuals and individuals of diverse genders yesterday.

The policy on preventing discrimination because of gender identity and gender expression explores how to remove barriers for trans individuals and end discrimination.

Trans individuals are among the most disadvantaged groups in society and routinely experience discrimination, prejudice, harassment and even violence, said the Commission. The new policy is designed to clarify the protections under Ontario’s Human Rights Code and help organizations create practices to prevent bias, discrimination or harassment.

“It has been a long struggle to have these rights clearly protected in the Code,” said Barbara Hall, OHRC chief commissioner.

“Adding these grounds makes it clear that trans people are entitled to the same legal protections as other groups under the Code. The challenge now is to send a message across Ontario that discriminating against or harassing people because of their gender identity or gender expression is against the law. This policy provides the tools to do this,”

The OHRC’s initial policy was revised following consultation with the trans community and other stakeholder groups, as well as extensive research.

The new policy addresses issues around gender identity, changing gender on official documents, dress codes, transitioning, and accessing facilities. It also offers clarification of terminology, information on key issues, a review of case law and guidelines and best practices on how to meet the needs of trans individuals and persons of unique genders.

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