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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. 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.
  2. 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.

  3. Policy on preventing discrimination because of gender identity and gender expression

    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.

  4. 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.

  5. 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.

  6. 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.

  7. OHRC policy position on sexualized and gender-specific dress codes

    March 8, 2016 - Some Ontario employers require female employees to dress in a sexualized or gender-specific way at work, such as expecting women to wear high heels, short skirts, tight clothing or low-cut tops. These kinds of dress codes reinforce stereotypical and sexist notions about how women should look and may violate Ontario’s Human Rights Code.

  8. Submission of the OHRC to the MGCS regarding name and sex designation change information

    May 23, 2016 - The OHRC believes that MGCS’ current system for storing and sharing information relating to name and sex designation changes discriminates against trans people in violation of Ontario’s Human Rights Code, insofar as it fails to protect privacy and confidentiality relating to transgender status and transition history. Disclosing information of such a sensitive nature not only harms dignity, but also can expose people to significant barriers, disadvantage, and even health and safety risks.

  9. Ontario Public Service (OPS) Gender Identity Policy: OHRC letter to Minister MacCharles

    June 15, 2017 - Dear Minister MacCharles, I trust this finds you well. I am writing to commend you on your Ministry’s leadership in development of the new OPS Gender Identity Policy - Gender Identity and Sex Information on Public-Facing Government Products and Forms, and to call on you to build on this important work by removing other human rights barriers that face people with diverse gender identities and gender expressions across government.