Friday, June 18, 2010

June 17, 2010 - Newfoundland Government denies direct Human Rights inclusion to transsexuals

Despite calls from me and many others, the Newfoundland Government's Department of Justice has refused to add 'gender identity' and 'gender expression' to the newly-formed Human Rights Act (which is an amendment to the old 1996 Human Rights Code), which has been posted here and is scheduled to be formally proclaimed within the next month:

New Human Rights Act of Newfoundland

On the contrary, however, they have added protection to ex-cons and other groups that they perceive to be more worthy of protection. Granting human rights protection to transpeople has become a frequent occurrence among many jurisdictions in the USA, Europe, and many other places in the world. Sadly, Canadian jurisdictions continue to lag behind, and Newfoundland seems quite happy to carry on this sad Canadian tradition.

It's no secret that transpeople in Canada are among the most discriminated against demographic. My life has been no different, as since coming out publicly as trans, i have lost a job; failed to land another job at the same level despite over 30 job interviews; failed to gain access to health care funding for care that my doctors say that i need; struggled immensely to find a new rental apartment (last year it took 30 landlord until i finally found someone willing to rent to me). In addition, i have faced exclusion from various sporting bodies, had family and friends turn their back on me, and have faced constant verbal abuse from many resident's of Newfoundland.

Although adding protection to the Act for transpeople won't necessarily guarantee that such discriminatory acts will cease (as it can be very easy to cover up discrimination, yet be very hard to prove), at the very least, this would have been a serious step in the right direction in terms of swinging the pendulum in the right direction. Formal recognition by Government of our recognition as human beings who have rights would have sent a strong message to society that it is no longer appropriate to discriminate against transpeople. Sadly, this government failed to take advantage of this opportunity.

Now, on the contrary, the HRC has insisted that transgender matters can be technically complained about under the generic definition of sex, however, this is clearly not the same issue.

To prove my point, I actually filed a human rights complaint against our province's Medical Insurance Program (MCP) about 6 months ago, citing discrimination on the basis of sex, with regards to MCP's refusal to grant funding for a variety of care items that my doctors say that i need. MCP insists that since i am transsexual, I must jump thru several additional hoops, and that I must not get the care in Canada. Well, 6 months later, the HRC has resolve absolutely nothing.

Even worse, in Newfoundland Canada, transpeople are forced to undergo cruel and unusual scientific research experiments at Toronto's infamous Centre for Addictions and Mental Health, in order to be even considered for funding (which in approx 90% of cases, results in rejection and a label of being 'mentally ill').

What makes this sadly ironic, is that it was my very own colleagues within the Newfoundland Department of Justice who lead the Human Rights Code review process. I met directly with them and many others to explain the importance of this issue, and I am saddened that they have turned a blind eye to the trans community.

As everyone knows, the only job offer I have managed to score since legally changing my name to Jennifer in March 2008, is that of a temporary physical labour nature, interestingly enough, with the Department of Justice, where I spend most of my work time gathering, organizing, retrieving, and returning, government paperwork from boxes, shelving units, and other offices.

As great as it is to have any job, I didn't spend 5 years going to university to get a degree so that I could find myself earning barely enough to pay my rent but using my muscles. I have a brain, I have talent, I have 7 years of work experience at the analyst level, including 2 at the senior analyst level. It is a shame that nobody in this province seems willing to overlook the trans issue.

Oh well, I am going to keep my head up and continue to do whatever i can to prove that i am still just as capable as i ever was of high quality work. I will continue to be a model citizen, who does not drink, smoke or do drugs; who does not have a criminal record.. someone who is a model citizen in terms of health and fitness - as I will continue to run marathons... and someone who will continue to donate much of my free time for worthy causes including working with LGBT youth, giving seminars at local high schools and universities, giving time to local charities, including the Terry Fox cancer foundation and the Candace Sutherland run for hope. I will continue to pursue advocacy work in Pride settings, and through the media. I will continue to be the most open and out transsexual athlete in the entire world... and I will continue to sit on boards and committees, such as Canada Blood Services LGBTQ working group.. and I will overcome these discriminatory obstacles to prove that I can be a valuable member to any analyst team and become a model citizen that everyone looks up to and wants their kids to be like!


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