Tag Archive: ontario laws

So a friend of mine is looking to get 200 Ontario Trans folks to participate in the TransForming Justice legal needs assessment survey [EDIT: Survey closes on or before September 30th, 2016, afaik. /EDIT]
The following is taken directly from the needs assessment website and/or the survey itself (emphasis is mine, though), which is available in English and French, and which you can download to preview the questions and/or fill out by hand, OR complete online:

Transforming Justice is a research project to help document the legal needs of trans* people in Ontario, identify access to justice barriers that trans* people face, and determine the needs of legal service providers (lawyers and paralegals) to provide more informed and inclusive services for trans* clients.
Given that HIV can also effect access to justice issues, a specific component of the project is examining access to justice issues experienced by trans* people living with or impacted by HIV.
We are collecting data using a survey for trans* people, one-on-one interviews for trans* people living with HIV, and focus groups for trans* people, including specific focus groups for Trans* People of Colour/Racialized Trans* people, First Nations, Metis, or Inuit Trans*/Two-Spirit People, and Trans* People living with or impacted by HIV. We are also collecting data from Legal Service Providers through focus groups.
While we are collecting data, the project is working to improve access to justice for trans* people by conducting public legal education workshops for trans* people about trans* legal rights and how to access reliable legal information and services. We are also providing continuing professional development workshops for legal service providers to help increase their capacity to provide informed and inclusive services for trans* clients.
To be eligible to complete the project survey and/or participate in a project focus group, you must be 16 years of age or over, live or work in Ontario, and identify as trans* [based on the following definition]:
“The project uses “trans*” as an umbrella term to refer to people with diverse experiences and identities, including two-spirit, non-binary, agender, gender queer, cross dresser, transgender and transsexual, as well as those who identify as men or women who have a history that involves a gender transition.”
The survey contains 4 core sections and is expected to take approximately 45 to 60 minutes to complete. The core sections ask questions about you, about legal problems you may have had, about how you get your legal needs met, and about your views of the legal system.
There are 2 additional sections that ask more in depth questions about legal problems, experiences in different legal settings (for example, a court house, a tribunal, and/or law office), and interactions with people associated with the justice system (such as with judges, lawyers, paralegals, and/or police). The additional sections are optional, expected to take approximately 20 to 30 minutes, and are designed for people who have experienced legal problems and have gone to court or tried to get help from a legal service provider to deal with the problems.

So you know what you’re getting into:
Section A includes questions about personal information – “About You” stuff like binary/non-binary ID(s), gender ID(s), sexual orientation(s) (with a fair number of “tick all that apply” questions), racial(ized) identity/ies, Canadian immigration/citizenship status, & personal income, but also includes stuff about anxiety, depression, suicidality, housing-security, food-security, and abusive/violent relationships.
Section B includes questions about access (time, energy, availability, knowledge, physical accessibility), self-advocacy, and personal & professional access-support.
Section C includes questions about your feelings regarding the legal system in Ontario (it’s a pretty short section).
Section D includes questions about legal problems/“problems”, and interactions with the legal system in Ontario, that you have experienced personally, including family & child-specific family law, employment law, housing problems, medical treatment & mental health law, immigration law & refugee situations, jail time, personal injury & property damage, debt, various forms of social assistance including Ontario Works and ODSP, HIV-specific legal issue, and Discrimination stuff including, but not limited to, trans-specific discrimination.
The one thing that I would have expected, given that it’s a survey about the legal system that also touches on things like financial insecurity, job discrimination, and HIV criminalization, is that there didn’t appear to be any questions about sexwork or sexwork-stigma and how that effects people’s interactions with the legal system. It’s possible that they’re in there and I just missed them, though, as I was skimming rather than going through it line by line. YMMV.
ANYWAY. If you are trans, an Ontario-resident, and have had experience(s) with elements of the legal system, I hope you will take the time to fill this out, even though it’s a long one. Legal Aid is paying attention to the results of this one, so your responses might actually make some positive changes happen.
Thanks very much, and please feel free to pass the link and the information along to Ontario trans folks you know.
Ms Syren.

Hey, folks.
So Parliament is going into (I think) Reading #2 of Bill C-51, the so-called “Anti-Terrorist Act”, which proposes a bunch of heavy-duty changes to Canadian law and to our national security infrastructure. A lot of these changes would negatively effect the rights and freedoms of Canadians (which is bad enough, honestly, BUT there’s more) without any sort of follow-through in terms of actually improving public safety (in fact, there’s a been a few annalysts who’ve pointed out the ways in which it does the opposite – give this a read for those details). This article breaks it down. If you’re hazy on the details of what the bill actually does, or are looking for a quick reference to use while composing a letter to your MP (or ALL the MPs, for that matter), I suggest that you give it a read. NOTE: You can also check out this Storify which has LOTS of links and information on the bill.
If you’re in Ottawa, you may want to participate in the Day of Action to Stop Bill C-51 as well. Click on that link to find events happening this Saturday (the Day of Action in question), as well as related events happening through the month of March.
Please do what you can to stop this bill in its tracks.
Thank you.
Ms Syren.

Hey there, everybody.
So this morning was full of a twitter discussion about what meds are contraindicated for Grapefruit (juice, but also the whole fruit). Pyke Barber dug up this handy list which, if you are on Anti-Depresants or Hormone Replacements of any kind (but also potentially a bunch of other meds that effect your brain) you should probably double-check about, if you don’t already know:
Grapefruit Effectiveness, Safety and Drug Interactions (RxList)
Other links of note:
Sophia Banks has this article about C279 and State-Sanctioned (and Perpetuated) Violence Against Trans Folks (esp Women).
Here’s an article from Xtra pertaining to C279 that you may want to check out (if you want to read all the hateful shit that comes out of Don Plett’s damn mouth, anyway…) and another one from HuffPo (that is slightly less awful to get through). Amnesty International is deeply unimpressed.
On a Sucktastically related note:
Sumaya Ysl, a black, trans, ballroom dancer from Toronto, was found dead last Sunday morning after being seen fleeing a man the night before.
If you are a writer of a womanly persuasion, you might considering submitting something to Bitch Magazine‘s “Blood and Guts” issue. Perhaps someone who knew Sumaya would like to submit a piece on intersectional violence? Maybe?
Eugh. And, this-just-in: Her Name was Melonie – Another Trans WoC Has Committed Suicide.
FFS. Hey, cis people, maybe we can all email Don Plett (again…) and tell him off for his abject failure to protect women and kids from violence? Let’s do that.
Note: When you email him? You’re going to get a shitty, condescending, mansplainy piece of bullshit back for your efforts. Do it anyway. What a hateful man. 😦

If you’re in Canada and would like to do something at least slightly concrete to support trans human rights here (or, heck, even if you’re NOT in Canada but would like to lend your support), particularly given that today is Trans Day of Remembrance, here’s something you can do:
Right now, Bill C-279 (read the whole Bill here) is in Committee, and has been since June 2014.
The bill, as drafted, will amend the Canadian Human Rights Act to include gender identity as a prohibited ground of discrimination as well as amending the Criminal Code to include gender identity as a distinguishing characteristic protected under section 318 and as an aggravating circumstance to be taken into consideration under section 718.2 at the time of sentencing (both of these sections pertain to hate crimes).
This is not the first time a private member has put forth a bill to protect the human rights of trans people in Canada. I would personally appreciate it if the bill actually made it through and became law this time.
To that end, I encourage you all to take part in PSAC’s letter-writing campaign and email members of the senate (PSAC offers this list, along with a handy letter-template to help you out) urging them to support C-279 as currently drafted and to pass it with all speed.
PSAC’s list also includes the few senators who have twitter handles and/or facebook pages, so that you can contact them through those channels as well[1].
Okay. Some of you are going to be thinking “What the heck good is this going to do?” when being race and sex are already protected under the human rights code and yet the majority of people who are remembered at TDoR are women of colour. And that’s a really valid question.
Trans activist Morgan M. Page points out that:

“TDOR is about the combination of three factors: transmisogyny, racism, whorephobia. Across the board, those we remember on TDOR were trans women of colour engaged in sex work. This tells us where our activism needs to be. We need another day to mourn those we lose to suicide, illness, and neglect.”

Writing letters in support of Bill C-279 will help put legislation in place that will mitigate microagressions like employers refusing to let someone work front-of-house at their job. It will also mitigate more macro discriminations like doctors refusing to prescribe day-to-day meds due to “discomfort”. Legislation like what’s proposed by C-279 is definitely important. But it’s only one piece of the puzzle.
Other things you can do (a list collected from a couple of folks on Facebook):
– Support sex workers rights – Sex workers need to work safely and be protected by legislation instead of being targeted and criminalized.
– Support anti-racism programs & actions – PoC face much higher rates of police & state violence (both in the immediate, physical sense and in the legislative sense).
– Support mental illness and suicide intervention programs – Trans people have much higher risks for mental illness and suicide.
– Support youth homelessness programs – Because breaking the cycle of parental abandonment and youth poverty can completely change people’s lives.
Ms Syren.
[1] EDIT: FYI, and not that this is going to shock anybody[2], but when you write to Don Plett, you’ll probably get a slimy, condescending reply dripping with enough ignorance and transmisogyny to make you want to fucking scream before the end of the third paragraph. So, y’know. Forewarned is forearmed…
[2] Except, apparently, me – who figured he’d at least have the sense to keep his bigotry really vague in any reply he chose to make.
Votive Candles in the Dark

So I wrote a letter to Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne with regards to bill #C36 and what she can do to protect her sexworking constituents and make sure these laws, too, gets struck down as soon as humanly possible.
A lot of people are doing this – hard copy letters, emails, even tweets – and it’s a bit of an informal campaign at this point.
There’s a templete available here if you’d like to write to your provincial/territorial Premier on the same subject.
You may also find some inspiration in Nikki Thomas’s impassioned open letter to Kathleen Wynne – I know I did. Likewise, POWER’s press release on the subject of C36 may offer further insights.
You can probably find a contact form or appropriate email address by googling “Office of the Premier” + your province or territory. That’s how I found Kathleen Wynne’s contact information.

Sexworkers are not “disposable people”. They are not “non-people” either. They have agency and they have rights, the same as everyone else in this province and in this country. Their lives matter and that doesn’t stop just because someone with a lot of power finds their work distasteful. (Me)


Please refer this bill immediately to the Ontario Court of Appeal for a constitutional reference, and do not pursue prosecutions until they determine its constitutionality. (Nikki Thomas)


Red Umbrella Image:
Only Rights Can Stop the Wrongs

Okay, folks. It’s a beautiful, if slightly rainy, day outside. A big part of me wants to shut this computer down, take a walk, and see if I can’t bring home another litre+ of service berries before the season’s over. Another part of me is glued to Twitter, watching the debate around proposed Bill C-36. And another part of me just wants to hole up in an arm chair with a good novel and some chocolate chip cookies, and try to pretend that my country isn’t being force-marched farther and farther into an oil-poisoned, woman-hating, bible-belt version of reality by a bunch of people whose motives just… How can anybody be that appalingly short-sighted, narrow-minded, and cruel???
Seriously. Ignorance isn’t blissful, but it’s got to be less exhausting than this nail-biting cocktail of fury and despair.
So. In the interests of signal-boosting, if nothing else, here are some links about the “Canadian Model” proposed by the Conservatives in response to the Bedford Decision.
First, from Tits and Sass, we have Canada’s Doomed Compromise On Prostitution Laws.
NOW Toronto offers this piece, suggesting that the Conservatives have deliberately proposed a bill that goes 10% against the spirit of the Bedford Decision specifically in order to be able to run on an anti-prostitution (or “anti-trafficking[1]”) platform in the upcoming federal election.
The British Columbia Civil Liberties Association has this reaction to Bill C-36.
Kwe Today has this piece (and this piece) about C-36 and its potential repercussions should it ever be made into law.
Pivot Legal offers this explanation of the bill (for those who would like a review), as well as this letter, signed by over 200 legal experts, criticizing the Conservatives’ proposed bill.
POWER has teamed up with Pivot Legal to produce this eleven-page document: Sexworkers and Bill C-36: Social Science Evidence detailing the ways in which the proposed law will harm sexworkers, thus flying in the face of the Bedford Decision. (NOTE: They have a number of other relevant texts on their website, which I encourage you to check out).
So there you go. Some not-so-light reading for you all.
Ms Syren.
[1] Becasue clearly the best way to help people who have been coerced into sex is to criminalize and marginalize and shame them even more. Genius dudes. Absolute genius.

So, after a morning spent working as a Professional Naked Chick, I came home to the news that Peter MacKay had tabled Bill C-36 the inapropriately named “Protection of Communities and Exploited Persons” act.
The full text of the bill is, in theory, available through Open Parliament, though I haven’t got a link for it yet.
You can learn what the proposed legislation means, and how it flies in the face of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, over at Pivot Legal.
POWER has issued a press release regarding the proposed legislation, and you can read it here.
I don’t even know where to start.
So fuck it.
I’m going to yoga and I’ll come back to this another day.

The current government of Canada is conducting a public consultation on “prostitution-related offences” in Canada RIGHT NOW. (February 17th – March 17th). You can answer their questions here.
I strongly encourage folks to go and comment. If you’re stuck for how to talk about this, POWER has isssued a call to action that includes information that can help you fill out the online consult’s questionaire. I’ve also posted my own answers listed below. I admit, I’m not thrilled with my own answer to Question 4 (see footnote for further thoughts), but they’re a place to start.
Please answer the public consultation questions and, beyond that, please spread the word. It’s really iportant that sex workers’ voices are heard on this front, but also the voices of sex workers’ allies and ANYONE who centers harm reduction, personal agency, and the legal empowerment of the many marginalized populations whose members are over-represented in this industry, particularly in its most dangerous and (oh, hey, look) marginalized quarters.

Consultation Questions (with answers)

1. Do you think that purchasing sexual services from an adult should be a criminal offence? Should there be any exceptions? Please explain.
Comment: Absolutely not. Sexual interaction between consenting adults is never criminal. The state has no business interfering with these interactions.
2. Do you think that selling sexual services by an adult should be a criminal offence? Should there be any exceptions? Please explain.
Comment: Absolutely not. The choice to sell one’s own sexual services harms no-one and helps many. Criminalizing the decision of those who make that choice is infantilizing and shaming and absolutely uncalled for.
3. If you support allowing the sale or purchase of sexual services, what limitations should there be, if any, on where or how this can be conducted? Please explain.
Comment: There should be no limits placed on or around the sale and/or purchase of sexual services by consenting adults. See above.
4. Do you think that it should be a criminal offence for a person to benefit economically from the prostitution of an adult? Should there be any exceptions? Please explain.
Comment: No, I don’t think it should be a criminal offence to benefit economically from an adult third party’s sale of their own sexual services. Numerous individuals and businesses already benefit significantly in this way: landlords, the children and spouses of sexworkers, retail establishments, hotels, baby-sitters, music teachers, post-secondary institutions, dry-cleaners, banks, small farmers, phone companies… The same people who benefit economically from an adult third party’s sale of their time, skills, and labour in any other industry. Section 212 (1) of the Criminal Code, that which deals with Procuring, can still be applied, though I would prefer it if it were extended to industries such as child-care, construction, and agriculture, where human trafficking is rampant[1].
5. Are there any other comments you wish to offer to inform the Government’s response to the Bedford decision?
Comment: I am grateful for the Bedford Decision, and that the highest court in Canada has recognized that the anti-sexwork laws are unconstitutional. While I would prefer that the government of Canada refrained from having any official standpoint on sexwork within our borders (similar to Canada’s official lack-of-stance on reproductive medical procedures) as I think it’s wrong for a government to attempt to control what consenting adults do with our own bodies, alone or otherwise, I realize that this may not be considered an option by the current government. As such, as a second possibility, I strongly suggest adopting the New Zealand Model, which ALL available research indicates is far, FAR more effective with regards to harm reduction (which is the point of all of this) than the “Nordic” or “Swedish” Model. I also urge this government, and any that follow, to listen to sex workers in all areas of the industry – rather than “moralists” or alarmists – when it comes to the regulation of their own business, and no-one else knows it like they do.
6. Are you are writing on behalf of an organization? If so, please identify the organization and your title or role:
Comment: No. I am writing on behalf of myself.
Thank you,
Ms Syren.
[1] Look. Strictly speaking, I’d rather we didn’t have a “procurement” law like this on the books, as it’s too specifically entwined with bawdy houses and it’s too easy to twist into something that looks like the above-mentioned Swedish/Nordic Model which disempowers, endangers, and infantilizes anyone working in the sex industry, or to turn it on its ear so that it can be used like the Avails Law has been used in the past to criminalize the families and associates of sexworkers.
I would much rather see human trafficking dealt with via additions to Section 362(1) (False Pretense), and Sections 279 (kidnapping of an adult) and 280-283 (kidnapping of a child/minor).

Okay, so by now I think everyone who reads this has probably already heard the news, but: WE WON!!! 😀 😀 😀
The Supreme Court of Canada unanimously struck down the three laws (Bawdy House, Communications, and Living Off The Avails) that the Bedford case challenged. The above link goes to the full text of the SCC Decision, but if you want the key points, you can check out Pivot Legal’s 705 Word Version.
You can read POWER’s press release here, while Maggie’s is available here.
Now it’s not all roses, of course. When is it ever?
Parliament, with it’s Conservative majority, has a year to come up with a different set of laws through-which to regulate sexwork in Canada (a number of friends in the business are expecting to be lobbying against a Nordic Model that criminalizes clients[1] in the near future, but time will tell on that one). We still have work to do, and will for the foreseeable future.
BUT Today is still a major victory, and so very, VERY worthy of celebration! Raise a glass of your favourite beverage (whether that’s champagne or mulled sweet cider from your favourite orchard), host a love-in, get a massage, poster your neighbourhood (poster is 11×17, but re-sizes easily), or otherwise find a way to celebrate. 😀

Ms Syren.
[1] So… What’s the problem with criminalizing clients? Well (1) the fact that we already have laws on the books the (rightly) criminalize assault, theft, and murder, further criminalizing the predators who pose as “Johns” would be redundant, while criminalizing actual clients is simply unnecessary, since they’re doing nothing wrong; and, more to the point, (2) criminalizing clients will most likely mean that clients will be less (or straight-up un) willing to take the time, risk the exposure, or give out the personal information required for sexworkers’ various screening processes to be effective.

So, rather than being at the Supreme Court on Thursday, I was at the doctor’s office getting some Potential Health Stuff checked out. (Further checking-out will ensue in… a litte bit. I’m fairly confident that I’m fine, so don’t freak out).
However, after the doctor, I had the luxury of attending a reception at the Mariott, hosted by POWER. It was a lovely experience. I met folks from The Naked Truth and the Bad Date Coalition, swapped business cards with a few people, and got to catch up on what happened in court.
Of course, Twitter further filled me in later (#bedfordscc).
It sounds like things went pretty well. The judges questions (from what I hear) suggested that they were paying attention to the issue at hand (whether or not current laws make sexwork unsafe) and ignoring derailing tactics like, to pick an example at random, trying to make the hearing about whether or not sexwork is “moral[1]”.
While the judges are reserving their decision, I am definitely hopeful.
Here’s hoping.

Ms. Syren.
[1] Because that’s such an objective, unbiased way of looking at anything…