UFCW Canada Statement in Support of the White Paper on the Status of Trans and Gender Diverse People
Toronto – December 6, 2023 – Human Rights Day is observed annually on December 10th. The United Nations 2023 theme is freedom, equality, and justice for all. In Canada, trans and gender diverse people are denied rights and freedoms and too often fail to be protected from violence and discrimination at work and in society at large.
Leading up to Human Rights Day, show your support for the #Trans Equality Now petition, launched by the Society of Queer Momentum and the Canadian Centre for Gender and Sexual Diversity, and supported by MP Randall Garrison. The petition calls on the federal government to act on 29 recommendations tabled in the White Paper on the Status of Trans and Gender-Diverse People.
Recommendations in this report include improving access to gender-affirming care, actions to counter hate and violence, strengthening identity documents, employment equity and refugee rights, to name a few.
UFCW Canada and UFCW OUTreach have over a decade-long history of working in community to advocate for the strengthening of gender-affirming care across Canada and within our union benefit plans. In 2015 we worked with the Canadian Professional Association of Transgender Health to document and map the status of gender affirming coverage across Canada and to advocate for a whole government approach to gender-affirming care within our national health care system. We also continue to negotiate strong benefit provisions and to coordinate training opportunities in defence of 2SLGBTQ+ rights and to combat transphobic hate. Despite these gains, we know from our 2020 binational survey on UFCW member LGBTQ+ experiences on the job, that workers who identified as intersex, transgender and non-binary continue to face higher rates of violence at work including misgendering and harassment. Sadly, this fact is echoed on the White Paper on the Status of Trans and Gender-diverse People in Canada.
Trans rights are human rights, and as such, must be fought for continuously because freedom to exist free from violence is intertwined every other equality provision which forms the heart of our movement. Union members whose workplace contracts include strong collective bargaining language, advocacy, and solidarity for 2SLGBTQ+ rights also tell us they feel safer and more protected because they know their workplace rights and have union support when problems arise. This spring, at the UFCW International Convention, UFCW members across the US and Canada unanimously passed a resolution which works to advance gender-affirming care in benefit plans across all sectors in the US and Canada.
Defending the rights of trans and gender-diverse people beyond workplaces with union protections in place, also needs a comprehensive government approach. One which demands that the federal government implement specific actions in response to the 29 recommendations made in the White Paper. Right-wing conservatives remain emboldened by hate and as such, have passed legislation in Saskatchewan and New Brunswick which not only corrodes and erodes individual human rights, but bypasses children’s inherent rights under the guise of “parental rights”.
Transphobic violence and 2SLGBTQ+ hate kills! On the heels of the 16 days of Action to End Gender-based Violence, we recognize the ways in which the experience of gender-based violence is compounded for transgender and gender-diverse persons. According to the Trans Pulse Canada Survey (2019), three in five transgender women experienced intimate partner violence since the age of 16.
In September, UFCW OUTreach joined activists in a JBS union plant in Kentucky as we mourned and remembered Zachee Imanitwitaho, a UFCW member who was murdered on the job earlier this year by a co-worker in a case of trans femicide.
With unwavering commitment and solidarity, we fully support the implementation of the 29 recommendations captured in the White Paper on the Status of Trans and Gender Diverse People and call on the federal government to immediately take action to address these recommendations.
Act now and sign the Trans Equality Now petition. The fight is urgent. The time is now. Together we can make society safer for trans and gender diverse persons. In doing so, we’ll make the workplace safer for all workers.