By Olivia Chollet , The Canadian Press March 30, 2018 07:03:59A small change in public policy may be the most immediate sign of change in how transgender Canadians live their lives.
But it may be also the least important one, said Janet Brown, executive director of the Transgender Legal Clinic at the University of Toronto.
“What you want to be careful about is that you’re not just taking the small step that is the most likely to be seen as positive,” she said.
“We need to take a more sustained, sustained effort to change the system.”
There are many reasons why people are hesitant to accept transgender identities.
There is still stigma attached to gender, and in many cases, the public doesn’t understand the complexity of the situation.
Transgender people are still struggling with their identities, said Brown, who also works with the Transgender Resource Centre of Toronto (TRC).
“There is a very, very high rate of discrimination against trans people, particularly trans women, in the workplace and in the broader public sphere,” she told CBC News.
“And so people are reluctant to come out and be who they are.”
The TRC is a support group for transgender people in Toronto.
It has been a central point of contact for some people who have faced discrimination.
“There’s a lot of shame, fear and insecurity around who they really are and who they’re really supposed to be,” said Tracey Saini, a Toronto-based trans activist and TRC member.
“So you see it in the form of a lot more of this kind of denial of trans people as well as a lot less acceptance of trans folks as trans people.”
The community of transgender people can feel isolated.
“The biggest thing that we’ve found is that the most vulnerable are the people who are the least likely to come forward,” Sainie said.
The TRP is a partnership between the University at Buffalo and the University Health Network of Toronto, which provide mental health services.
The clinic also provides support for transgender and gender non-conforming youth.
The Transgender Legal Centre has helped many trans people who need support, including the young women who were sexually assaulted at the hands of the University’s men’s basketball team.
“It was one of the first times that a student had been assaulted and then the students did not have access to the resources that they need,” said Stephanie Satterfield, who is trans.
The students have since started the school-based Gender Identity Clinic, and Satterfields is now the clinic’s president.
A transgender woman talks about her experiences of being assaulted by men during a visit to the Gender Identity and Gender Expression Clinic at Toronto’s Trinity College. “
So we are really trying to be really proactive and really understanding that the only way we are going to be able to help those students is if we are also supporting trans students.”
A transgender woman talks about her experiences of being assaulted by men during a visit to the Gender Identity and Gender Expression Clinic at Toronto’s Trinity College.
(Mark Blinch/Canadian Press)Transgender women are also often targets of hate speech, which is why the TRC offers free consultations for trans people in the clinic, as well.
“Transgender-identified people have a higher prevalence of mental health issues than cisgender-identified people,” Satterford said.
“If we were to do this in a hospital setting, we would be seeing more cases of violence against trans women and gender-nonconforming people.”
But there are some things that can be done, she said, including providing support groups and advocacy groups for transgender students.
“They are a really small group that is really struggling, and if we could get more people who work with these people to be involved in this community, that would be really helpful,” she added.
But the TRCs own staff are very welcoming and accommodating, said Sattersea.
“There’s always a very open and welcoming environment.
If we can find a way to make this a safe space, it’s going to work.”
Transgender rights advocate Janet Brown said that people have been working for decades to improve the accessibility of health services for transgender women.
“I think that’s been a really, really, very slow process.
I think the last few years, particularly in the last couple of years, have really pushed the boundaries in terms of access,” she explained.”
As people are working more closely with the health services to make sure that they are safe and that the health service is responsive to the needs of transgender Canadians, then we’re going to see more changes.”
It’s time to take action, said Rachel Sommers, executive vice-president of the Canadian Human Rights Commission (CHRC).
“I believe that we’re seeing more and more progress in terms to equality for transgender individuals, but it’s still a