Trans Legal Needs Project

TRANSforming JUSTICE / TRANSformer la JUSTICE (TFJ)

TRANSforming JUSTICE Trans Legal Needs Assessment Ontario / TRANSformer la JUSTICE Évaluation des besoins juridiques trans en Ontario (TFJ) is a mixed-method legal needs-assessment/research study of trans people in Ontario.

HALCO is leading the project in partnership with faculty from the University of Toronto, Western University, and Ryerson University. The project goals are to:

  • assess the legal needs of trans people in Ontario
  • identify access to justice barriers
  • canvas the needs of legal service providers (lawyers and paralegals) in serving trans clients, and
  • make recommendations necessary to improve access to justice for trans people in Ontario.

TFJ 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.

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.

First Report: Legal Problems Facing Trans People in Ontario / Rapport sommaire 1 : Problèmes juridiques rencontrés par les personnes trans en Ontario

The first TFJ report, released in September 2018, includes a summary of the project and key findings:

TFJ gathered data from members of trans communities as well as legal service providers through a survey, focus groups and individual interviews.  The project also included public legal education workshops with trans community members and continuing professional development workshops with legal service providers.  For more information, please see Data Gathering below.

As noted in the report, findings from survey, focus group and interview participants reveal that:

  • trans respondents experienced justiciable legal problems in far greater proportion than the general population in Canada;
  • experiences of social exclusion, harassment, and violence based on respondents’ trans status often caused or complicated justiciable legal problems; and
  • obtaining legal assistance for justiciable legal problems was very rare, such that most of the problems were left unaddressed, at least formally, even when the impact of the problems was significant.

Reports on other aspects of project findings will be released over the coming months, including recommendations for action to improve access to justice and address the legal needs of trans people in Ontario.

Data Gathering: Survey, Focus Groups/Workshops and Interviews

The data collection phase of the project took place between May 2016 and February 2017.  The project gathered data from members of trans communities as well as legal service providers. The project included:

  • an online survey of 232 trans people in Ontario (182 completed the legal problems module of the survey).
  • 13 focus groups held in cities across Ontario, with 125 trans participants in total , 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.
  • individual interviews with 19 trans people living with or affected by HIV.
  • 9 focus groups held in cities across the province that engaged 82 legal service providers (lawyers and paralegals).

A number of survey items were designed to facilitate comparison with broader Canadian population statistics on legal need and access to justice.

Throughout the course of data collection, and as a core component of the project goals, TFJ team members held public legal education workshops with trans community members and continuing professional development workshops with legal service providers. The 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 presented 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 committees

There are four committees providing guidance to the project:

  • Trans Community Consultation and Outreach Committee
  • Legal Service Provider Consultation and Outreach Committee
  • Social Service Provider Consultation and Outreach Committee, and
  • Court and Tribunal Consultation and Outreach 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.

More Information

Primary funding was provided by Legal Aid Ontario, with additional funding from the Ontario HIV Treatment Network.

You can find more information about the project:

 

For more information about the project, please send an email to us at talklaw@halco.org.