The BC Supreme Court has upheld the jurisdiction of the Human Rights Commission to hear a complaint of discrimination in employment on the basis of transsexualism. The complainant was a post-operative male to female transsexual. The court observed that she is medically and legally a woman. The Vancouver Rape Relief Society denied her an opportunity to volunteer her services as a rape counselor. The reason given by the society was that only a woman who has grown up with experience as a girl and a woman will have “the attendant insights into the relationship between male violence and women’s inequality in order to assist women in crisis because of male violence.” That rationale was coupled with a concern that some clients of the society requiring counseling may not be comfortable with a counselor whom they may believe is not or may not be a woman. The society also argued that transsexualism or “gender identity” is not a named ground of prohibited discrimination in the Human Rights Code. In Vancouver Rape Relief Society v. B.C. Human Rights Commission, the Court ruled that the prohibition in the Code against discrimination on the basis of sex includes discrimination on the basis of transsexualism.
(Click here for link to Decision)