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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. 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.

  2. 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.

  3. Access to locker rooms for trans amateur hockey players: J.T. v. Hockey Canada et. al.

    Background

    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.

  4. Backgrounder – Talking about gender identity and gender expression

    April 2014 ­­­­- Over the years, the Ontario Human Rights Commission (OHRC) has taken steps to address discrimination because of gender identity. In 1999, the OHRC released “Toward a Commission Policy on Gender Identity” for public comment. In 2000, the OHRC released its first Policy on discrimination and harassment because of gender identity, taking the position that the ground of “sex” could be interpreted to include gender identity. Following the release of this policy, the OHRC continued to call for explicit recognition of gender identity as a protected ground in Ontario”s Human Rights Code.

  5. Consultation survey: Revised Policy on discrimination and harassment because of gender identity and gender expression

    Introduction

    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.

  6. Discussion paper: Toward a commission policy on gender identity

    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.
  7. Dress Code checklist for employers

    From: OHRC policy position on sexualized and gender-specific dress codes

    Removing barriers based on sex and gender

    This checklist can help organizations make sure that their dress codes and uniform policies are consistent with Ontario’s Human Rights Code protections relating to sex and gender, as set out in the OHRC’s Policy position on sexualized and gender-specific dress codes.

    Dress codes/uniform policies should:

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

    From: OHRC policy position on sexualized and gender-specific dress codes

    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:  

  9. 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.

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