By: Ellen A. S. Low
A private members bill recently passed through the House of Commons, Bill C-389, is intended to protect transgendered and transsexual citizens from discrimination on the basis of “gender identity” or “gender expression.”
The Canadian Human Rights Code already protects individuals on basis of sex and sexual orientation; however the bill would amend the Code to specifically prohibit discrimination against transgendered and transsexual persons.  The Bill also proposes to amend the Criminal Code to make crimes against transgender or transsexual people, a hate crime.
Supporters are concerned that the Bill might be a short-lived success, as it likely won’t survive the Senate.  However, with respect to the human rights element, Bill C-389 might be unnecessary.  A number of previous Canadian Human Rights decisions have clearly stated that “…discrimination on the basis of transsexualism constitutes sex discrimination.”  Interpreted in this way the ground of “sex” should be sufficient to protect transgendered and transsexual citizens from discrimination under the Code.  Then again, adding it expressly certainty couldn’t hurt.