Supporting transgender people in the workplace.

Author:Luhtanen, Melissa

The Alberta Human Rights Act (Act), RSA 2000, c. A-25.5, protects people from discrimination in employment based on gender identity and gender expression under section 7 of the AHR Act:

7 (1) No employer shall (a) refuse to employ or refuse to continue to employ any person, or (b) discriminate against any person with regard to employment or any term or condition of employment, because of the...gender identity, gender expression... of that person or of any other person. What are the responsibilities of employers regarding gender identity in the workplace? While there is no definition of "gender identity" in the Act, it is generally understood to include transgender and transsexual people, and may over time develop in law to include non-binary genders. The Alberta Human Rights Commission has indeed accepted complaints from transgender people for a number of years under the ground of "gender," but it was in 2015 that the Alberta Human Rights Amendment Act (Bill 7) officially added in the words "gender identity" to protect transgender people. Alberta Hansard, December 1, 2015 includes a good explanation and one definition that may be useful in understanding what these terms mean:

The key to understanding what transgender means is understanding the difference between sex and gender. Sex refers to the physical characteristics that are associated with being male or female, including primary sex characteristics such as genitals and secondary sex characteristics such as breasts. Gender refers to the social presentation of masculinity and femininity. Many cultures have strict rules about how to perform masculinity and femininity. Rigid masculine and feminine gender roles are referred to as the gender binary. However, ideas about gender are not static. They change across time and place, within one society, and between different cultures.

Transgender individuals do not identify with the sex that they were assigned at birth and present their gender in a way that reflects their true selves. Some transgender persons choose to have gender-affirming surgery so that their physical characteristics reflect their gender identity, and some do not. Gender identity does not relate to sexual orientation. Transgender and gender-variant people may identify as straight, gay, lesbian, bisexual, pansexual, or any other sexual orientation.

Under the Act, transgender people are protected from discrimination and harassment, not only in employment, but also in publications...

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