In the Ontario Human Rights Code (the Code), sexual harassment is “engaging in a course of vexatious comment or conduct that is known or ought to be known to be unwelcome.” In some cases, one incident could be serious enough to be sexual harassment. Gender-based harassment is one type of sexual harassment.
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.
In 2000, the Ontario Human Rights Commission (OHRC) released a policy on gender identity and human rights, taking the position that the ground of sex could be used to protect transgender people from discrimination and harassment. The OHRC also called for an amendment to the Ontario Human Rights Code (the Code) to add “gender identity” as a prohibited ground of discrimination and harassment.
This case involved a transgender boy, Jesse Thompson, who was denied access to the boys’ locker room the rest of his amateur hockey team used during the 2012-2013 hockey season. Jesse alleged that this resulted in him being ‘outed’ as trans, excluded from important team interaction and bonding, and exposed to harassment and bullying.
October 1999 - Research and consultation conducted by Commission staff in preparation for this paper shows that transgendered people experience negative stereotypes that have a pervasive and often traumatic impact on virtually every aspect of their lives. They are shunned by society and regarded with suspicion. Their jobs, housing and family lives are as threatened by the process of ‘coming out’ as by involuntary discovery. These are all issues that favour the development of a progressive policy to protect the human rights of transgendered persons within the legal framework of the Code.