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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. Policy on preventing sexual and gender-based harassment

    May 2013 - Sexual harassment is a form of discrimination based on sex. The Ontario Human Rights Code (the Code) prohibits all forms of discrimination based on sex, and includes provisions that focus on sexual harassment. The principles set out in this policy will, depending on the circumstances, apply to instances of sexual harassment in any of the social areas covered by the Code. However, to reflect the most important recent developments in the law and in social science research, this policy will focus on the areas of employment, housing and education.

  2. Sexual harassment in housing (fact sheet)

    The Ontario Human Rights Code says everyone has the right to be free from sexual harassment by their landlord, someone working for their landlord, or someone who lives in the same building. Because landlords are in a position of authority, and have access to apartments and often hold personal information, tenants can feel very threatened when they are sexually harassed. This may be especially true for low-income, racialized, gay and lesbian people, people with disabilities and other people identified by the Code who are sometimes targeted for sexual harassment.

  3. Restrictions of facilities by sex

    From: Guide to your rights and responsibilities under the Human Rights Code

    This section allows separate washrooms, examination areas, change rooms and other services that are men-only or women-only. Trans people should be provided access to facilities that are consistent with their lived gender identity.[34]


    [34] For more information, see the OHRC’s Policy on discrimination and harassment because of gender identity (2000).

  4. 9.4. Intersections with gender identity

    From: Minds that matter: Report on the consultation on human rights, mental health and addictions

    Transgender people told us about the major impacts on their mental health from daily discrimination, lack of societal acceptance, poverty, unaffordable housing and alienation from family, based on gender identity. A focus group co-facilitated by Rainbow Health Ontario, identified poverty as a consequence of discrimination, but also a contributing factor to poor mental health. In a study of 433 trans Ontarians, half “seriously considered” suicide because they were trans. Trans youth (up to age 24) were more than twice as likely to seriously consider suicide than trans people over age 25.

  5. Re: Consultation document – revised criteria for change of sex designation on an Ontario birth registration

    July 25, 2012 - We are pleased to note that a key objective of the consultation is to develop revised criteria that are in accordance with the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario’s decision dated April 11, 2012 in XY v. Ontario (Government and Consumer Services). We trust that this submission is of assistance in your development of revised criteria. We address the questions set out in your Consultation Document, and make additional observations.

  6. Submission of the Ontario Human Rights Commission to the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario Regarding the draft policy, "Physicians and the Ontario Human Rights Code"

    February 2008 - The draft policy raises a number of new concerns. The following pages detail the Commission’s concerns and provide suggestions for how to address them. We hope that our comments assist the College in providing greater clarity and ensuring that physicians have correct and sufficient information about their obligations under the Code.

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