HALCO, the Canadian Bar Association (CBA) and the TRANSforming JUSTICE: Trans Legal Needs Assessment Ontario (TRANSforming JUSTICE) Research Team recently released the Access to Justice For Trans People report. This report uses “trans” as an umbrella term to refer to a diverse array of experiences and identities, and we acknowledge that the usage of the word “trans” and identities encompassed within it varies and is evolving. It is also important to note that that the term “Two-Spirit” is claimed by some Indigenous persons who may also self-identify as trans, but that the term should not be conflated with Western sexuality and gender identities.
The report highlights that trans people face more co-occurring legal problems than cisgender people in Canada, often as a direct result of the legal system itself. They are also less likely than cisgender people to formally act on their legal issues. This report makes many recommendations to improve access to justice for trans people, and to motivate actions towards building a legal system that is inclusive for all people in Canada.
- The report was produced by HALCO, the TRANSforming JUSTICE: Trans Legal Needs Assessment Ontario (TRANSforming JUSTICE) Research Team, the Canadian Bar Association (CBA) National Access to Justice Subcommittee and the CBA Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity Community Section.
- Findings from TRANSforming JUSTICE study were situated in the broader access to justice framework of the CBA’s Reaching Equal Justice report.
- Trans participants in TRANSforming JUSTICE reported experiencing a disproportionate number of justiciable legal problems compared to the general population in Canada. Many of them also reported experiencing multiple legal problems simultaneously.
- Participants reported that they were generally reluctant to seek help or access the legal system. Some factors were identified, like discriminatory experiences, inadequate legal services, or lack of accessible and trans-specific legal information, among others.
- The report makes many recommendations to improve access to justice for trans people, which are meant to be a starting point for future discussions and measures to address the issues faced by the members of trans, non-binary and gender diverse communities in Canada. As the report states that many of the root causes of people’s legal issues stem from the legal system itself, broad systemic change is required to truly address the lack of access to justice for trans people in Canada.
- Trans people must be supported to lead the further development and implementation of all recommendations, which is partly why CBA has established its Trans Advisory Group
- This work must be done in a way that respects the sovereign rights of the Indigenous Peoples of Canada, incorporates Indigenous justice approaches and responds to Calls to Action of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada and Calls for Justice of the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls. Indigenous trans and/or Two-Spirit people must be supported to take the lead on this essential work.
- An intersectional lens that accounts for the different experiences of trans people with different identities and circumstances must also be employed at all stages of further development and implementation of the recommendations.
The press release can be found here.
The report can be found below:
- Access to Justice for Trans People: http://cba.org/CBAMediaLibrary/cba_na/images/Equal%20Justice%20-%20Microsite/PDFs/CBA_AccesstoJusticeforTransPeople.pdf
- L’accès des personnes trans à la justice:http://cba.org/CBAMediaLibrary/cba_na/images/Equal%20Justice%20-%20Microsite/PDFs/CBA_FreAccesstoJusticeforTransPeople.pdf