Canada’s Unions Mark Trans Day of Remembrance

Canada’s unions are marking this year’s Transgender Day of Remembrance by calling on the federal government to implement a ban on conversion therapy.

Conversion therapy aims to change an individual’s sexual orientation or to change an individual’s gender identity. This harmful practice negatively impacts LGBTQ2SI people and reinforces myths and stereotypes.

“Conversion therapy is a cruel and dangerous practice that stigmatizes LGBTQ2SI communities. It must stop,” said CLC Executive Vice-President Larry Rousseau. “Canada’s unions support strong legislation to help protect LGBTQ2SI people from the life-long trauma and harm conversion therapy can inflict.”

The federal government introduced legislation earlier this fall to ban the practice. Bill C‑6 is now before the Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights. The Yukon recently banned conversion therapy, making it the only territory to have such a ban. Ontario, Nova Scotia and P.E.I have also previously banned conversion therapy provincially.

This annual Day of Remembrance is an important opportunity to highlight the disproportionately high levels of violence that trans communities face. Transphobia and transphobic violence were at a crisis point even before the COVID-19 pandemic, but there is no doubt that the situation has worsened. So far in 2020, 350 trans and gender diverse people have been reported murdered worldwide.

The most recent report on health and well-being among racialized trans and non binary people in Canada found that, among respondents, 72% had experienced verbal harassment in the past 5 years, 45% had been harassed at work or school, and 73% worried about being stopped or harassed by police or security because of who they are.

“Canada’s unions have a critical role to play when it comes to fighting back against these terrifying statistics,” said Rousseau. “Our workplaces and our unions are not immune from transphobia, but we can be part of the solution to combat and end transphobic violence.”

The CLC created the Workers In Transition handbook, a guide to supporting trans rights in the workplace.

There have been several important victories in recent years in support of trans rights in Canada. In 2017, gender identity was included in the Canadian Human Rights Act as a protected identity. Accessible public educational and mental health supports in communities across the country have also become more widely available.

However, there is still lots of work to do to support trans rights and the wellbeing of trans people in Canada. For example, the trans rights from region to region are inconsistent, and access to life saving health care – like hormone replacement therapy and gender affirming surgeries – is not available to all.

“We must continue to fight for trans lives at work, in our provincial and territorial legislatures, and on parliament hill. We cannot live in a world where our comrades and friends are being harassed or killed because of their gender identity,” said Rousseau.

Due to the global COVID-19 pandemic, many Trans Day of Remembrance vigils are being held virtually. Check out this list to show your solidarity and join a virtual event.

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