Following multiple speeches in favour, city council has voted to implement a city-wide protocol aiming to protect trans people in Hamilton.
Trans rights have been a topic in Hamilton ever since the city reached a legal settlement with a trans woman after she was denied entry to a women’s washroom in April 2016, and when anti-trans ads were put up in bus shelters in August 2016. Following these experiences, the city created a working group to codify gender identity into the Hamilton bylaws to ensure equality for all individuals.
On Mar. 6, city council’s audit, finance and administration committees approved the protocol following various presentations from different groups both in favour and against the protocol.
The protocol saw immense support from the McMaster, with delegations from the McMaster Students Union’s Queer Students Community Centre and the Equity and Inclusion office, among others.
“I have never felt safe or secure in this city. Even now, as I’ve listened to past presenters, I sat trembling in my seat, fearful for myself and my own well-being,” said Daniel Blum, on behalf of the MSU’s Transgender Community Group. “This cannot be the safest place to raise a child nor to be a child growing until all children, including transgender children, may feel safe and secure in all areas of our city.”
“We say that trans rights are human rights, so why must we come up here and prove that we are human enough, that we feel pain enough for this protocol to pass?” said Tai Jacob, on behalf of the MSU’s Women and Gender Equity Network. “The protections granted to trans and gender nonconforming people, through this protocol, tell us that we are welcome in city spaces.”
Multiple groups reviewed this protocol, namely the Ontario Human Rights Commission and an independent lawyer who specializes in human rights and trans rights.
The protocol aims to protect trans people employed by the city and to provide a clear set of guidelines in order to foster a more inclusive environment.
It includes policies giving trans employees the right to privacy and confidentiality with respect to their gender. The protocol formally ensures all information concerning health, and especially sex reassignment surgery, is kept confidential unless completely necessary to share such information.
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The protocol formally states individuals have the right to choose their own pronouns, a thought in line with the supposition that all individuals are able to pick their gender.
It also limits the data that may be collected about gender, arguing that this information must prove to be crucial in order for such a survey to be allowed in these settings. It also states when information concerning gender be collected, that it is collected in an open-box format rather than forcing individuals to choose between “male” and “female”.
The protocol entitles individuals to dress in accordance with their gender identity or gender expression without receiving backlash. The protocol commits the city to allowing individuals to use the washroom that corresponds to their gender identity and provides all-gender, single-stall bathroom for those who desire it.
The passing of this protocol marks a historic moment in Hamilton’s LGBTQ history, and illustrates a push towards support for marginalized groups in the city.