Today, on the International Day against Homophobia, Transphobia, and Biphobia, we wrote to BC Premier Clark urging her to support the passage of Bill M-222, a legislative amendment that recognizes the inherent dignity and worth of trans people.

The Human Rights Code (Recognition of Gender Identity and Gender Expression) Amendment Act, 2016 takes important steps to recognize the human rights of trans people, and to prohibit discrimination on the basis of gender identity and gender expression.

The Bill was tabled on the heels of today’s announcement of federal legislation, Bill C-19, that would make it illegal under the Canadian Human Rights Act to discriminate on the basis of gender identity or gender expression. Similarly, Bill M-222 would offer an opportunity to educate British Columbians about the importance of the human rights of trans people and to foster an environment of mutual understanding and respect, where all are equal in dignity and rights.

“Now is the time to ensure that trans people – who have historically faced high levels of discrimination and violence – are protected and afforded the same dignity and equality rights as other British Columbians,” said Director of Law Reform Kendra Milne. “Although the Tribunal already interprets the BC Human Rights Code as protecting trans people, this amendment would make it explicit and not up to the discretion of individual decision-makers. No person in BC should have to rely on another individual’s discretion to recognize and enforce their human rights.”

West Coast LEAF’s vision of gender equality includes a commitment to advancing the human rights of persons who are transgender and to challenging the systemic inequalities they face. Trans women in particular face multiple inequalities and transgender rights are a feminist issue. Previously, West Coast LEAF urged the passage of Bill C-279, which would have added protections for transgender people to the Criminal Code and Canadian Human Rights Act. It was passed in the House of Commons but was stalled in the Senate and did not become law.

Read our letter here.