Recent Attacks on Trans Rights

Recently, the rights of trans, non-binary, two-spirit, and gender diverse individuals have faced unprecedented attacks from provincial governments. In New Brunswick, Policy 713 was amended to require schools to obtain parental consent before allowing their child to change pronouns or names at school.

Following suit, Saskatchewan passed a law (Bill 137) imposing similar obligations on schools of the province. This law also aims at banning independent organizations from providing sexual education in schools.

Inspired by these measures, which endanger the safety of many children, Alberta has also adopted its own policies regarding what many now call “parental rights.” These policies are much broader, aiming to limit care for young trans people and ban trans women from participating in women’s sports.

In Quebec, amidst a controversy fueled by cases of harassment and a pan-Canadian transphobic movement, François Legault’s government has established a “Comité des sages” to “reflect” on the rights of 2S/TNBGD individuals. Two members of this committee have ties to some of the most vehemently Québec transphobic groups. Knowing that these laws would likely violate the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, several provinces have used the “notwithstanding clause” to circumvent it.

The current social climate deeply concerns JusticeTrans, but the overall gloom should not overshadow the few gains made over the past year. In May 2023, the Supreme Court of Canada ruled that individuals who criticize hate speech would now be protected from defamation suits. After needlessly delaying the integration of the gender X marker on health insurance cards and driver’s licenses (in defiance of a law passed in 2022), the Quebec government finally allowed it in early March 2024.

The strength of hateful movements has forced us to reinforce our network and prepare tools to respond to violence. Several organizations have developed kits aimed at better understanding transphobia issues. JusticeTrans has conducted its own research project on this topic, titled “tracking transphobia”. Faced with transphobic backlash, we are gradually organizing an active defense of our rights.