New Gender Identity/Gender Expression Policy from the Ontario Human Rights Commission

The Ontario Human Rights Commission (OHRC) has released a new policy on the rights of trans and gender non-conforming individuals. The Policy on preventing discrimination because of gender identity and gender expression can be read in its entirety at:

http://www.ohrc.on.ca/en/policy-preventing-discrimination-because-gender-identity-and-gender-expression

The Policy represents a complete revision and update to the OHRC’s original policy on gender identity first published in 2000. Since that time, the Ontario Human Rights Code has been updated to enshrine gender identity and gender expression as Code-protected grounds. The OHRC’s new Policy reflects this change and provides guidance to organizations seeking to meet their legal responsibilities under the Code. The Policy also promotes understanding and awareness about trans people and the bias and prejudice they often face.

The Policy reminds organizations that trans people and other gender non-conforming individuals are protected from discrimination and harassment because of gender identity and gender expression in the following five areas:

  • when receiving goods, services and using facilities;
  • when occupying housing accommodation;
  • when entering into a contract with others;
  • in employment; and
  • when joining or belonging to a union, professional association or other vocational association.

The Policy provides examples as to how gender identity and gender expression may come into play in these five areas, and solutions that meet an organization’s responsibilities under the Code. For example, access to change rooms/washrooms, the provision of shelter services, the implementation of dress codes and proper hiring procedures are all topics that are considered. A best practices checklist is also provided.

Issues related to gender identity and gender expression can be complex. We recommend a full review of the OHRC’s new Policy in order to gain an understanding of how these issues may impact your organization.

 

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