Toronto - May 12, 2015 - UFCW Canada stands in solidarity with our LGBTQ friends on May 17, the International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia.
This day is aimed at calling attention to the grave injustices faced by those who cannot freely express their gender identity due to fear of prejudice and discrimination at home and at work. A new national study, the Trans Youth Health Survey, surveyed 923 youth who identify as trans in Canada. Two-thirds of the respondents reported that they had experienced discrimination due to their gender identity. Only 15 percent of respondents had a family doctor who was comfortable in addressing their trans-specific health needs (see www.saravyc.ubc.ca).
UFCW Canada has also done extensive research in the area of access to trans-specific health care needs, and the findings are concerning. While eight out of ten provinces in Canada provide provincial coverage for trans-specific health services, no province or territory provides coverage for procedures such as laser therapy or depilatory services, which can be key for many trans people’s ability to appear in accordance with their gender identity. The extensive wait times to be seen by gender identity clinics, in addition to years of waiting to undergo gender reassignment surgeries, are also undeniable hardships.
When governments can choose to be inclusive instead of exclusionary, and when we see alarming rates of suicide among trans youth across North America, we need to be persistent in our demand for legislation to protect trans persons from prejudice at work, school, and in the community. The lack of timely access to health care for trans youth and adults is also discriminatory and intolerable, and must be addressed by government and community stakeholders alike.
As a national partner with the Egale Human Rights Trust, the country’s leading organization to raise awareness of issues affecting LGBTQ communities, and as a member of the Canadian Professional Association for Transgender Health, UFCW Canada strongly advocates for an end to gender identity discrimination and prejudice. We demand protection for LGBTQ citizens and the trans community by pushing for improvements in legislation such as Bill C-279, and internationally through our participation in UFCW OUTreach — a constituency group dedicated to advancing the rights of our LGBTQ UFCW members in Canada and the U.S.
On May 17, and throughout the year, I encourage you to raise awareness of this important issue in your workplace and in your community.
Paul R. Meinema