The B.C. NDP candidate for Vancouver–West End has promised that if his party forms the government, transgender people will come under the B.C. Human Rights Code.
“The private member’s bill that I brought in, we will bring it in as a government bill," Spencer Chandra Herbert told the Georgia Straight in an interview on Denman Street. "We will make it law.”
Chandra Herbert's comments came during a visit by NDP Leader Adrian Dix to a pizza restaurant on Denman Street.
In 2011, Chandra Herbert introduced a bill calling for protection for gender identity and gender expression.
An explanatory note included in his motion states: "This bill affirms the rights or transsexuals, transgenderists, intersexed persons, cross-dressers, and other groups who routinely suffer discrimination based on the expression of their gender or the gender identity they experience."
The NDP platform includes the following pledge: "Strengthen and protect human rights to ensure all citizens are treated with dignity and respect."
However, there's no mention of "trangender" in the document, which was written under the oversight of veteran NDP MLAs Carole James and Bruce Ralston.
Chandra Herbert told the Straight that the NDP caucus is in agreement with him on amending the B.C. Human Rights Code to protect trans rights—and this is part of the promise to strengthen and protect human rights.
In 2012, the NDP noted in a news release that trans rights have already been "read into" the code.
At the time, the NDP argued that "high rates of violence and discrimination, especially in employment and housing, suggest that protections for trans people need to be more clearly written out. This would be part of a larger effort to educate the public about trans people and their right to live a life of dignity and respect."
The NDP has not promised in its platform to reinstate the B.C. Human Rights Commission.
"We need to look at that," Chandra Herbert said. "I think there is a lot of really good argruments around why we need that kind of support. It’s just a question of to make sure it works—exactly what model or programs."
Today, West End trans activist and NDP supporter Rachel Andrus approached NDP Leader Adrian Dix at the pizza restaurant.
Andrus wanted to know if the NDP will promote improved access to health resources for trans people. Dix told Andrus that when he was the NDP health critic, he raised this issue.
On Monday (May 13), Andrus will appear before the Vancouver park board to speak to a motion by Vision Vancouver commissioner Trevor Loke to create a trans and gender-variant working group.
If the motion passes, this group will provide a report to the board on how it can be "the world's most inclusive jurisdiction for trans and gender-variant communities".
To accomplish this, the group will provide recommendations to promote inclusivity through signage and literature, public spaces (including washrooms and changerooms), human resources training, staff policies, programming, and through collaborative public and community partnerships.