On November 20, communities across the Prairies, Canada and the world gather to remember those trans people who have passed away in the past year, including victims of transphobic violence. As we remember, we must rededicate ourselves to the struggle against discrimination and violence that too often targets transgender and gender-variant people.
We know that we have a lot to do. A recent study of transgender youth in Manitoba and Saskatchewan has found that nearly 50 per cent of school-age youth in Manitoba and Saskatchewan attempted suicide, while 60 per cent had engaged in self-harming behaviour. These figures are both well above the already tragic national numbers. In Alberta, results of a similar survey show that almost 65 per cent of transgender youth have thought about suicide.
In Canada, we can finally celebrate the passing of Bill C-16, which will enshrine trans rights into Canadian law. This legislation adds gender identity and gender expression as prohibited grounds of discrimination under the Canadian Human Rights Act. It also adds gender identity and gender expression to the list of distinguishing characteristics of “identifiable groups” protected by the hate speech provisions in the Criminal Code. Ten of the 13 provincial and territorial jurisdictions already have similar legislation in place.
PSAC has been a strong supporter of the rights of our gay and lesbian, bisexual and trans members. We campaigned for C-16, and have bargained language in our collective agreements on issues such as discrimination on the basis of gender identity or gender expression, access to safe washrooms and change rooms, and the right to be referred to by one’s chosen gender. This work continues.
All people deserve respect, equality and protection from discrimination and violence. We will do everything in our power to be better allies and put an end to transphobia and transphobic violence.
Regional Vice-President, Manitoba
Union of National Employees, PSAC
GLBT Representative on the Prairie Region Council, PSAC
Regional Executive Vice-President, Prairies
Public Service Alliance of Canada