Ottawa may soon help transgendered clients

By Staff, with files from The Canadian Press | May 18, 2016 | Last updated on May 18, 2016
3 min read

Your transgender clients may soon have an easier time changing their social insurance number information to reflect their gender identities.

Employment and Social Development Canada says it’s considering allowing social insurance number holders to change their sex designation without needing a new birth certificate.

Read: Helping LGBTQ clients

Currently, someone who wants to make such a change has to provide a birth certificate or immigration document showing they have changed their sex designation from birth.

Since 2015, the department has allowed people to make the change in cases where a revised birth certificate isn’t available. That happened just as the department headed to mediation at the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal after failing to easily allow Christin Milloy to change the designation on her record to female.

Milloy has argued the department doesn’t need to collect the information at all.

Should mediation fail, the tribunal could force the government to stop collecting the information altogether.

A spokesman for the department says the sex designation is primarily used for gender-based analysis, “and not for determining eligibility for benefits.” It is also used by provincial and federal agencies who use the social insurance registry, like the RCMP, student loan programs and CRA, to validate someone’s identity.

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A review of the system and talks with those agencies “revealed concerns over the complete removal of sex information” from social insurance records, department spokesman Josh Bueckert said in an email.

Bueckert said the department doesn’t know how many people ask for a change in the sex designation annually — those numbers aren’t tracked.

Greater protection from discrimination

After more than a decade of attempts, the federal government is pushing lawmakers to pass greater protections for transgendered Canadians by explicitly protecting gender identity and expression from hate crimes and discrimination.

For years, transgender Canadians had to come up with creative arguments in front of courts and commissions to link discrimination against them with existing human rights laws.

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“Thank goodness this bill is passing because it will protect us from … hateful propaganda, assaults, rape — stuff like that,” said Charlie Lowthian-Rickert, who was born a boy but identifies as a girl.

“It could protect us and stop the people who would have just gone off and done it in the past and discriminated or assaulted us. Now it could be stopping them and then basically punishing them if they actually do it,” the 10-year-old said during a morning news conference alongside the federal justice minister.

The legislation would, if passed, make it illegal under the Canadian Human Rights Act to deny someone a job or to discriminate in the workplace on the basis of the gender they identify with or outwardly express.

A survey conducted by Trans Pulse Project in 2010 showed that out of the almost 500 transgender respondents in Ontario, 20% reported having been physically or sexually assaulted, though not all of them reported the assaults to police.

The respondent-driven sampling survey found 13% reported being fired and 18% refused a job because they were transgender.

Once passed, the Canadian Human Rights Commission would likely provide detailed guidance to employers and employment lawyers about what the new laws mean and raise awareness among the general public.

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Staff, with files from The Canadian Press

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