Friday, June 15, 2012

Trans Rights proclaimed in Manitoba 6/15/2012

Lost in all the excitement of the Ontario Human Rights Bill Toby's Law, was the formal signing off of Gender Identity into the Manitoba Human Rights Act. "Royal Assent" is the final step of amending parliamentary legislation, and Manitoba, has technically beat Ontario to the punch.

A press release on May 23, 2012 from the Manitoba Government - an NDP majority Government, announced the tabling of a Bill that would add Gender Identity (but interestingly enough, not Gender Expression), to their Human Rights Act. Of note, there is no formal definition in the Act for gender identity (much like there is not one in Ontario). 

Critics of explicit trans rights state that a lack of a definition could open the door for gender identity/expression to be cited as an excuse for the initiation of criminal activity in public spaces - such as sexual assaults in washrooms. However, there does not appear to be any global reports of this happening, from any of the many jurisdictions that have proclaimed such rights.  Furthermore, definitions are rarely, if ever, cited in Human Rights Acts, as this would risk limiting the protection to only some of the people affected by such situations.

It's been quite the week for trans rights in Canada, as in addition to Ontario and Manitoba joining the Northwest Territories with providing explicit Human Rights, Alberta announced plans to re-instate provincial government health care funding for Sex Reassignment Surgery.

Next for Canadian trans advocates, will be working with Federal MPs to attempt to secure support for Bill C-279, as it continues to work its way through the parliamentary system.  Furthermore, work still needs to be done to ensure human rights and health care for all remaining provinces - including my native Nova Scotia, and my current home Newfoundland.

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