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Gender identity and gender expression

Under the Ontario Human Rights Code, discrimination and harassment because of gender identity or gender expression is against the law. Everyone should  be able to have the same opportunities and benefits, and be treated with equal dignity and respect including transgender, transsexual and intersex persons, cross-dressers, and other people whose gender identity or expression is, or is seen to be, different from their birth sex.

In 2012 “gender identity” and “gender expression” were added as grounds of discrimination in the Ontario Human Rights Code. To fully address the new Code grounds, as well as the significant legal decisions, policy changes and other developments since its first policy, the OHRC released a new Policy on preventing discrimination based on gender identity and gender expression in April 2014.

To learn more about the OHRC’s work on gender identity and expression, and the public consultation it undertook to develop the new policy, see Talking about gender identity and gender expression.

Relevant Policies:

  1. Sexual harassment & sex discrimination at work

    March 8, 2016 - The OHRC recognizes the severe impacts of sexual harassment on working women and trans people. It can reduce employees’ morale, decrease productivity and contribute to physical and emotional effects such as anxiety, depression and posttraumatic stress disorder. The United Nations’ Declaration of the Elimination of Violence Against Women specifically recognizes that sexual harassment is a form of violence against women.

  2. Eliminating discrimination to advance the human rights of women and transgender people

    March 8, 2016 - Through its public education, policy development, outreach and litigation functions, the Ontario Human Rights Commission (OHRC) continues to work with community partners to challenge gender inequality and promote and advance the human rights of women and trans people in Ontario. Here is some of the work the OHRC has done in the past year:  

  3. OHRC Submission to the Ministry of Children and Youth Services Review of the Child and Family Services Act

    The Ontario Human Rights Commission (OHRC) welcomes the opportunity to provide input to the government’s legislated review of the Child and Family Services Act (CFSA). Section 1 of Ontario’s Human Rights Code protects children from discrimination in services, because of race, ancestry, place of origin, colour, ethnic origin, citizenship, creed, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression, marital status, family status or disability.

  4. OHRC submission regarding MGS Consultation: Change of Sex Designation on a Birth Registration of a Minor

    The Ontario Human Rights Commission (OHRC) welcomes the Ministry of Government Services’ consultation regarding change of sex designation on a birth registration of a minor. The OHRC is concerned that the current government practice – which does not allow for a change of sex designation on the birth registration and certificate of persons under age 18 – is discriminatory on the basis of gender identity and gender expression.

  5. Special report: gender identity and gender expression

    From: Annual report 2013-2014: OHRC Today

    New policy protects human rights of trans and gender-diverse people

    The OHRC launched an im­portant new policy in Spring 2014, the Policy on preventing discrimination because of gender identity and gender expression. This policy fol­lowed the 2012 amendment to the Human Rights Code to add the grounds of gender identity and gender expres­sion. This change provides protection for one of the most vulnerable and margin­alized communities in society.

  6. Gender identity and gender expression (brochure)

    April 2014 - People who are transgender, or gender non-conforming, come from all walks of life. Yet they are one of the most disadvantaged groups in society. Trans people routinely experience discrimination, harassment and even violence because their gender identity or gender expression is different from their birth-assigned sex. Under the Ontario Human Rights Code (the Code) people are protected from discrimination and harassment because of gender identity and gender expression in employment, housing, facilities and services, contracts, and membership in unions, trade or professional associations.

  7. 3. Gender identity and gender expression

    From: Policy on preventing discrimination because of gender identity and gender expression

    The Code does not define the grounds of gender identity, gender expression or sex. Instead, the understanding of these and other related terms, and the implications for the Code and OHRC policies, is evolving from tribunal and court decisions, social science research as well as self identity and common everyday use.

    Sex is the anatomical classification of people as male, female or intersex, usually assigned at birth.

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