Steve Silva, Global News, April 5, 2014
Dozens rallied in front of the Saskatchewan Legislative Building Saturday afternoon hoping to convince the provincial government to add terms to the Saskatchewan Human Rights Code to ensure undeniable protection for the transgender community.
Specifically, they want “gender identity” and “gender expression” added to the definition of prohibited ground.
“We’re concerned about it. It should be much more specific and explicit, so their protections are there,” said David Forbes, Saskatoon Centre MLA and NDP critic for diversity, equality and human rights.
Saskatchewan Human Rights Commissioner David Arnot said transgender people are protected under the code, despite the code’s wording, because the Supreme Court of Canada has already established that definition should be interpreted “widely, broadly.”
Forbes isn’t fully convinced.
“It is open to interpretation, and there are many people who disagree that it’s protected,” said Forbes.
Arnot said he is talking to the trans community and is “open-minded” to the argument to change the code.
However, changing the code would be a complex issue, he argued.
“As soon as you start to narrowly define individuals or groups in any way, you may run the risk of leaving somebody out,” said Arnot on Friday.
When Miki Mappin came out as a female three years ago, some people had a hard time accepting her.
“The harassment got worse, to the point where I was actually accosted,” said Mappin, director for the Gender Equality Society of Saskatchewan.
Her troubles eventually led to a nervous breakdown, resulting in time away from work.
“It’s so hurtful. You start to feel terrible about yourself, like you try to tell yourself it’s not you, it’s them,” she said at the rally.
Mappin says many in the community support the cause but didn’t attend, fearing the personal and work repercussions of being discovered as trans people.
“One person wrote me…[She] said that she was feeling suicidal, and depressed, and she wishes wasn’t alive. It was so tragic to read that,” said Mappin.
While others are on her mind, the hopeful outcome of the rally was personal.
“It means that I can feel that I’m a valued part of society,” said Mappin.
Saturday is the last day of Trans Awareness Week in Saskatchewan.