Monday • 2012.02.13
Human Rights Commission Agrees to Hear Trans ID Discrimination Complaint Against Social Insurance Registration
On January 9th, after months of prep work, I filed a human rights complaint with the Canadian Human Rights Commission against Social Insurance Registration, because they refused to update the Gender designation on my SIN record. Three days ago, I received notification that the Commission has agreed to hear my complaint.
The Ministry of Human Resources and Skills Development Canada (HRSDC is in charge of SIN registration) has been notified of the complaint, in a letter sent by the Commission, dated February 6th 2012.
In the letter, the Commission explains that their “initial review of the complaint did not find any issues related to section 41(1) of the (Human Rights) Act…” in other words, the Commission agrees that my complaint appears legit on its face, and that a formal human rights complaint is the appropriate process to follow in addressing the grievance I’ve raised.
HRSDC has three options to respond to the Commission regarding their alleged breach of the Human Rights Act.
Their first option is to offer me mediation, and they have a deadline of ten days to declare if they wish to take that route. If they do decide to use mediation, then unfortunately due to confidentiality I will not be able to share the details of the negotiation (only the outcome).
However, I will not simply settle for having my own indicator fixed. Instead, I will work with SIN Registration to negotiate a new policy for Gender identification on SIN records that works for all trans-identified people so that henceforth they may seek employment, work, and pay their taxes in their own gender identity, with the full dignity to which they are entitled.
Option two gives HRSDC the chance to explain to the Commission why they “should refuse to deal with this complaint.” In this case, within thirty days, HRSDC would have to provide evidence to the Commission demonstrating conclusively that my complaint is ineligible under one of the grounds set forth in section 41(1) of the Human Rights Act. In my opinion, HRSDC would be unsuccessful in such a claim. Here are the grounds:
(a) the alleged victim of the discriminatory practice to which the complaint relates ought to exhaust grievance or review procedures otherwise reasonably available;
I sent more than half a dozen letters to several individuals at escalating levels of the organization, until they all stopped responding to me (and I’ve got the copies and registered mail receipts to prove it).
(b) the complaint is one that could more appropriately be dealt with, initially or completely, according to a procedure provided for under an Act of Parliament other than this Act;
No Act of Parliament exists which covers this situation (I checked, and by law, HRSDC is not even legally obligated to collect and store “sex” designations in the first place).
(c) the complaint is beyond the jurisdiction of the Commission;
HRSDC is a Ministry of the Federal Government, which is explicitly within the jurisdiction of the Canadian Human Rights Commission.
(d) the complaint is trivial, frivolous, vexatious or made in bad faith; or
They might try this one, but I believe it’s clearly demonstrable that the negative impact of prejudicial misidentification created by “you are your junk” ID policies like those employed at SIN Registration can hardly be dismissed as “frivolous.” And the only thing “vexatious” about this complaint is how SIN Registration’s repeated refusals made it necessary for me to file it in the first place.
(e) the complaint is based on acts or omissions the last of which occurred more than one year, or such longer period of time as the Commission considers appropriate in the circumstances, before receipt of the complaint.
I sent them my new information in June of 2011, and their first refusal notice was dated July 6th, so the act of discrimination is well within the prescribed timeframe for eligibility.
For all these reasons, I don’t think sidestepping the complaint is going to work for HRSDC.
Which leaves option three. If HRSDC decides to forego their first two options (or if they attempt and then exhaust option two), that leaves them with their final option. Within thirty days, they must “prepare a response to the allegations in the complaint.” The letter outlines what is required from HRSDC in their response:
Step 1: Gather information related to the complaint. Identify any aspects of the complaint that could be resolved; the facts that are not in dispute; and the facts that are in dispute.
Step 2: Attach copies of any documents related to the complaint, as well as the names of people who could assist in the investigation.
Step 3: Send your response, in writing, within 30 days of receiving this letter…
The formal complaint process requires that I receive a copy of any response prepared by HRSDC. Since they are obligated to respond within thirty days, I should have an update on the progress of this case very soon.
Until then, I wait with bated breath.