Please enable javascript to view this page in its intended format.

Queen's University
 

Gender Identity

Under the Ontario Human Rights Code, people who are discriminated against or harassed because of gender identity are legally protected under the ground of “sex.” The Queen’s Harassment/ Discrimination Policy and Procedure differs from the Code in that it specifically names “gender identification” as the ground for such protection. Both, however, protect against unfair differential treatment (discrimination) and unwelcome comments or conduct (harassment) based on gender identity. Those protected include people who identify as trans or transgender, transsexual, and intersex, those who cross-dress, and other people whose gender identity or expression is, or is perceived by others to be, different from the sex assigned to them at birth.

What is gender identity?   

Gender Identity is an individual’s inner sense of gender. That inner sense of gender may or may not correspond to the sex assigned to the individual at birth.

Examples of gender identity:

  • Trans(transgender, trans-identified) is an inclusive term referring to people who cross socially-constructed gender boundaries by adopting a gender identity, presentation, or behaviour that is not generally associated with that individual’s assigned biological sex. This can include people who identify as transsexual, as cross-dressers, or as intersex.
  • Transsexualcan be used to describe someone who is planning to make, is in the process of making, or has made physical changes to the body through such means as hormone therapy and sex-reassignment surgery.
  • Cisgendermeans someone whose gender identity matches the sex assigned to them at birth.

What is transphobia?

Queen’s policy defines transphobia as “ the negative valuing, stereotyping and discriminatory treatment of individuals who do not conform in appearance and/or identity, to conventional conceptions of gender.”

Discrimination on the ground of gender identity

Under the Ontario Human Rights Code, people who are discriminated against or harassed because of gender identity are legally protected under the ground of “sex.” The Queen’s Harassment/ Discrimination Policy and Procedure differs from the Code in that it specifically names “gender identification” as the ground for such protection. Both, however, protect against unfair differential treatment (discrimination) and unwelcome comments or conduct (harassment) based on gender identity. Those protected include people who identify as trans or transgender, transsexual, and intersex, those who cross-dress, and other people whose gender identity or expression is, or is perceived by others to be, different from the sex assigned to them at birth.
Gender identity is not the same as sexual orientation, and Queen’s policy follows the Ontario Human Rights Code in treating them as separate grounds. See “Sexual Orientation.”

Accommodating gender identity

Under Queen’s policy, there is a duty to accommodate people on the basis of gender identity. The goal is to allow people to benefit equally from and take part in events, activities, housing, and employment. Accommodation is a shared responsibility and everyone, including the person seeking accommodation, should cooperate in the process. However, when members of the University have obligations related to a human rights ground that conflict with an institutional rule or practice, Queen’s has a duty to accommodate peoples’ needs with dignity and to the point of undue hardship.

Where ever something is routinely provided on the basis of gender (for instance, men’s and women’s washrooms or change rooms or single gender residences), an individual is entitled to access it in accordance with that individual’s gender identity. For example, if an individual identifies as female, that individual would be entitled to make use of a washroom labeled for “Women.” This is without regard to the gender assigned to that individual at birth or to the opinion of other users of the washroom as to whether that individual is a woman. In attempting to assert their rights in this area, however, trans individuals sometimes encounter transphobic behaviors on the part of other users of the facilities, behaviors that can range from harassing statements to actual violence. Difficulties may also be encountered by individuals who do not identify within the gender binary, so that, unless there are gender-neutral facilities, there are no facilities they can comfortably use. In order to accommodate everyone regardless of gender identity, residences not restricted by gender and gender-neutral washrooms and change rooms can be provided.

Evolving medical and psychological approaches to issues of gender identity

Our understanding of gender identity is changing over time. At present, those seeking medical assistance to make physical changes to their bodies may be required to demonstrate that they have “gender dysphoria” or “gender identity disorder” in order to access that assistance. There are ongoing discussions within the medical community about whether it is helpful or accurate to view trans identities as  psychological conditions.

  • Gender Dysphoriais defined in the American Heritage Medical Dictionary, 2007, as “A persistent unease with having the physical characteristics of one's gender, accompanied by strong identification with the opposite gender and a desire to live as or to become a member of the opposite gender.”  Note that this definition assumes (1) there are two and only two genders, (2) that it is necessary for an individual to identify with one or the other, and (3) that medical assessment of physical characteristics decides one’s gender, while an individual’s sense of gender identity does not. All of these assumptions are currently being questioned within the medical community.
  • Gender Identity Disorderis the DSM 4 (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, 4th edition) label used by psychologists and physicians for people who experience significant gender dysphoria.

Contact Us

If you would like to discuss a concern about discrimination based on gender identity, please contact the Queens’ Human Rights Office at:
Phone: 613-533-6886
Email: hrights@queensu.ca


Related resources:

The Queen's Positive Space Program:Celebrating sexual and gender diversity at Queen's since 1999, this sticker program came into existence to promote the idea that all spaces at Queen’s should be safe for all people, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity and expression. The Positive Space website includes a variety of resources.

The Queen’s Education on Queer Issues Project (EQuIP):  A student organization located in the Grey House, EquIP’s objective is to provide a positive space for people of all sexual and gender identities (e.g. Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Pansexual/Omnisexual, Transgender, Transsexual, Intersex, Queer, Questioning, Two-spirited, Asexual, Allies, and others), ethnic backgrounds, literacy, ages, physical and mental abilities. They sponsor Queerientation and support Queen’s Pride Week.

Ontario Human Rights Commission resources:

Kingston, Ontario, Canada. K7L 3N6. 613.533.2000