TESA supports gender identity, gender expression enumeration in Alberta Human Rights Act
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE – November 19, 2015 – ALBERTA
The Trans Equality Society of Alberta (TESA) supports the government of Alberta's decision to clarify existing human rights provisions by adding explicit enumeration for gender identity and gender expression within the Alberta Human Rights Act.
“TESA is extremely pleased that Alberta is about to become the fourth province to include explicit enumeration of both gender identity and gender expression in its human rights legislation,” says TESA president Jan Buterman. “Alberta is taking a great step today to address ongoing inequalities and discrimination that arise for trans Albertans.”
Unlike other provinces, Alberta has two statutes governing human rights. The province amended the Alberta Bill of Rights earlier this year to include gender identity and gender expression. Only Ontario, Prince Edward Island, and Newfoundland and Labrador enumerate both gender identity and gender expression in their human rights legislation.
Previously, only materials from the Alberta Human Rights Commission described clearly that trans people were protected in the province, through defining “gender” as a ground that “includes the state of being female, male, transgender, or two-spirited ...” in their Guide for filing a human rights complaint.
“Being able to read for yourself that you have rights is important,” says Buterman. “Instead of trans Albertans seeking remedy after discrimination has occurred, including gender identity and gender expression in the Alberta Human Rights Act will help discourage such discrimination from happening in the first place. Formal affirmation of human rights is an important step towards addressing ongoing social inequalities.”
Since its inception in early 2009, TESA has worked to fulfil its mission of being a witness to and a voice for matters concerning trans Albertans. “TESA has long held that adding 'gender identity' and 'gender expression' to the Alberta Human Rights Act is a reasonable and justifiable step toward ensuring that trans Albertans enjoy full equality,” says Buterman.
Buterman notes that over the years, trans Albertans have shared their experiences with discrimination in employment, housing, education, healthcare and other areas. As recently as 2014, a trans Albertan successfully won a case against the government of Alberta itself for discriminatory behaviour. The case, C.F. v Alberta (Vital Statistics) resulted in part of the Vital Statistics Act being struck down as unconstitutional under s. 15 of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms guaranteeing equality before the law. Subsequently, the province also amended regulations related to motor vehicle licensing that relied on the same language as that which had been struck down as unconstitutional.
“Enumeration changes everything,” says Buterman.
For further information, please see:
PROVINCE of ALBERTA
ALBERTA – Province to strengthen human rights legislation--Nov 19, 2015 [video]
ALBERTA – Province to strengthen human rights legislation [text]
ALBERTA – Bill 7, an Alberta Human Rights Amendment Act, 2015
ALBERTA – Alberta Human Rights Act
ALBERTA OFFICIAL OPPOSITION
WILDROSE – Statement on Bill 7
ALBERTA HUMAN RIGHTS COMMISSION
AHRC – Human Rights Complaint Form and Guide
TRANS EQUALITY SOCIETY of ALBERTA
TESA – request to clarify trans* rights in Alberta
TESA -- Trans* Rights Across Canada
C.F. v. Alberta (Vital Statistics), 2014 ABQB 237
Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms
More information about TESA can be found at www.tesaonline.org
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