Transgender activist opposes Downtown Eastside pharmacy ban
The Vancouver Women’s Health Collective says transgender women will not be served at its new pharmacy on the Downtown Eastside. And that has a neighbourhood transgender activist alleging that the collective is discriminating against women like herself.
“That’s not acceptable,” Jamie Lee Hamilton told the Straight in a phone interview. “No city licence should be given out to any business that operates in the city of Vancouver if it chooses to discriminate.”
Hamilton added that she plans on filling her next hormone prescription at Lu’s: A Pharmacy for Women, which opened on July 7 at 29 West Hastings Street.
The collective’s executive director, Caryn Duncan, told the Straight in a phone interview that her organization’s steering committee discussed whether or not to extend service to all “self-identified women”. In the end, members decided to serve “women born women”.
“We are an organization that has for almost 40 years supported women around their battle with breast cancer or unwanted pregnancy or delivering a baby with a midwife, [and] celebrating or dealing with menopause,” Duncan said. “It’s about bleeding—or wanting to bleed or not bleed. It’s about being a woman, and the physiology of being a woman.”
She claimed that the pharmacy doesn’t have the expertise or capacity to serve transgender women. “I think we’re being very reasonable,” Duncan said. “I believe the massive groundswell of support for our pharmacy and for our work is evidence that what we do is supported in the broader community.”
The B.C. Court of Appeal has upheld women-only organizations’ legal right to restrict membership to women and not admit transgender people. Hamilton, however, claimed that the court’s ruling dealt with organizations and not with a business that provides a health service.