Canadian Parliament Passes Historic Transgender Rights Bill
Transgender flag raised alongside Pride flag at Queen’s Park. Credit: CTV News Toronto

Canada’s Parliament has passed a new law recognizing that transgender rights are human rights. Following over a decade of debate and conflict, the bill has finally been by passed senate and will be enacted by next week.

Vice reports, “Bill C-16 prohibits discrimination against trans people in federally-regulated sectors based on their gender identity or gender expression — including the public service, military, and airline and banking industries. It will also formally recognize violence directed towards trans people as a hate crime.”

The bill gained approval by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and the majority of Parliament, and passed legislation in a 67-11 vote. “Today, Canada became a safer and more inclusive place for trans and gender-diverse people,” said Devon MacFarlane, Director of Rainbow Health Ontario.

Credit: Canadian Senate via Twitter

Trans Canadians are 25 times more likely to commit suicide than cisgender people (cis implies gender assignment and identity align). Half of trans Canadians are living under the poverty line.

Worldwide, trans people face problems with employment and housing.  They are also more likely to be victims of hate crimes and sexual assault. Furthermore, it can be difficult for trans people to find medical health professionals that treat them appropriately. 

The bill, an amendment to the Canadian Human Rights Act and the Criminal Code, beautifully expresses its goal its protect “the principle that all individuals should have an opportunity equal with other individuals to make for themselves the lives that they are able and wish to have and to have their needs accommodated.

Activist Susan Gapka was at the forefront of the battle, and has been integral in passing Canada’s Bathroom Bill and helped restore medical funding for gender reassignment surgery. She also helped overturn a law that had required trans people to have reassignment surgery before being able to change their legally recognized gender.

In honour of the bill passing, and in celebration of Pride Month, for the first time in history, the transgender flag was raised alongside the Pride flag at Queen’s Park in Toronto. “It means for people like myself who grew up feeling not included and not represented that indeed, it’s a clear symbol that perhaps I am,” said Susan Gapka.

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