Trans* Legal Needs Project


HALCO is leading the TRANSforming JUSTICE (Trans* Legal Needs Assessment Ontario) project to help ensure that the legal needs of trans* people in Ontario are being met and to determine the barriers that trans* people face in accessing justice.

The project is using “trans*” as an umbrella term to refer to a diverse array of experiences and identities, including two-spirit, non-binary, agender, gender queer, cross dresser, transgender, transsexual, as well as those who identify as men or women but have a history that involves a gender transition.

The project is to assess the legal needs of trans* community members, document problems trans* people have getting legal services, explore structural causes of trans* people’s challenges with the law, and help identify policy changes and other interventions necessary to improve access to justice for trans* people in Ontario.

While the project is focussed on the needs of the broader trans* community, a specific component of the project is dedicated to trans* people living with HIV.

Data Gathering: Survey, Focus Groups/Workshops and Interviews

The data collection phase of the project has been completed.  The project gathered data from members of trans* communities as well as legal service providers. The project has included:

  • an anonymous survey for trans* community members.
  • focus groups and legal education workshops for trans* community members, including specific focus groups and workshops for:
    • First Nations, Métis, or Inuit (First Peoples) trans*/two-spirit people
    • racialized trans* people/trans* People of Colour, and
    • trans* people living with or affected by HIV.
  • one-on-one interviews for trans* people living with or affected by HIV.
  • focus groups and workshops for legal service providers.

The legal education workshops for trans* communities included a trans* rights and access to legal services 101.  The workshops for legal service providers included a “trans* 101 and legal framework” component. The legal service provider workshops, which were given by lawyer N. Nicole Nussbaum, were accredited as containing 1 hour and 10 minutes of Professionalism Content (Continuing Professional Development – CPD) by the Law Society of Upper Canada (now the Law Society of Ontario).

Project Report

The qualitative and quantitative data is now being analyzed. It is anticipated that findings and recommendations will be released over the coming months.

Project committees

There are four committees providing guidance to the project:

  • trans* community consultation and outreach committee
  • legal service provider committee
  • social service provider committee, and
  • decision-maker committee (including judges and administrative tribunal members).

Ethics approval was obtained through research ethics boards at the University of Toronto and the University of Western Ontario.

You can find more detailed information about the project in the Trans* Legal Needs Assessment: Project Backgrounder (pdf).

Funding and Partners

The current three-year project is funded by Legal Aid Ontario (LAO), with additional funding from the Ontario HIV Treatment Network (OHTN). We will be seeking additional funding to implement the recommendations. Project partners include HALCO, the University of Western Ontario and the University of Toronto. HALCO is lead organization on the project and N. Nicole Nussbaum is the project lead.

More Information

For more information about the project, please send an email to: or call 647-782-8773 (you can call collect).