Transgender ban at Vancouver women-only pharmacy may violate profession's code of ethics

A spokesperson for the College of Pharmacists of British Columbia has said that she doesn’t think the code of ethics governing pharmacists permits a pharmacy to deny its services to transgender people.

But Lori DeCou, director of communications for the college, which licenses and regulates the profession in the province, told the Georgia Straight that the only way to know for sure is for someone to submit a complaint.

“If you know of someone that has been told that they would not be treated because of something to do with their gender, they need to lodge a complaint with the college, and we would certainly pursue that complaint,” DeCou said by phone today (July 10).

On July 7, the Vancouver Women’s Health Collective opened Lu’s: A Pharmacy for Women (29 West Hastings Street) in the Downtown Eastside.

Caryn Duncan, the collective’s executive director, told the Straight on July 8 that the pharmacy’s services are available to “women born women”. She said the pharmacy does not have the expertise or capacity to serve transgender women.

Transgender rights activists, including Jamie Lee Hamilton and Beth Marston, have criticized the collective’s policy. They plan to protest at the pharmacy tomorrow morning (July 11).

Marston told the Straight by phone today that it’s discriminatory for a business to be “denying people access to health care on the basis of their gender identity”.

DeCou said the college hasn’t received any complaints that she is aware of regarding the new pharmacy.

The pharmacists’ code of ethics, available on the college’s Web site, states: “A pharmacist’s commitment to the patient’s care must be sensitive to, but not prejudiced by, factors such as the patient’s race, religion, ethnic origin, social or marital status, gender, sexual orientation, age, or health status.”

Asked if the code of ethics would allow a women-only pharmacy to discriminate against transgender people, DeCou replied, “I don’t believe so. But I don’t know what it is that they’re doing, right? So, if they’re refusing to give treatment because of something to do with someone’s sexuality or their gender, then is that unethical behaviour? Potentially yes. And if we had a complaint to the college that said this is what XYZ pharmacy or someone was doing, then we would act on that. And one of things that we would certainly look at would be our code.”

According to DeCou, a complaint must be filed in order for the college to interpret the code of ethics. She said that complaints must be submitted in writing, and a specific procedure must followed.

The college’s Web site tells people interested in submitting a complaint to contact its complaints-resolution department at 604-733-2440.

“If someone has come to you with a story and said, ”˜This is what’s happened to me,’ get them to tell that story to the people who can do something about it—if in fact that’s inappropriate behaviour—and that’s the regulatory college, which is ourselves,” DeCou said. “So, that’s very nice that they come to the media. That’s wonderful. But they need to go through the channel to come to us for us to act against something.”

You can follow Stephen Hui on Twitter at twitter.com/stephenhui.

Comments (17) Add New Comment
Murdoch
Boycott VanCity! They funded this pharmacy.
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maybeuforgot
The women's only pharmacy breaches a pharmacists code of conduct not only for transgnedered, but for men too. You know, half the population.
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Holly Black
Let us hope that no-one files a complaint.

No transwoman needs to be abused in court the way Kimberley Nixon was. And it is better than this case stands as an unresolved shame on the Vancouver women-only Pharmacy for their policy of hate and on the College of Pharmacists of British Columbia for their ineffective Ethics policy which tries to suppress the most vulnerable of people to expose themselves to hate filled newspaper publicity to try to have their human rights.
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C
I'm curious what the rationale for a women's only pharmacy is in the first place. I''m not suggesting there isn't one, but it isn't obvious. Doesn't this contravene the college's policy not to deny treatment on the basis of gender? I would think that if a pharmacy can refuse to treat someone who identifies as male, why couldn't they refuse treatment to transgendered people? I realize there are, of course, generally permissable exceptions to such rules, but I wonder what the reasoning here is.
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Van Resident
Wouldn't it have been better to serve everyone but say they specialize serving women by having specialized people who are sensative to women's needs serving women and other people serving everyone else?
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eastvandude
c, a pharmacy can not refuse anyone service based on their gender either transgendered, female or male. This is also a violation of the bc human rights code. I am male and will file a complaint with the college of pharmacists and the bc human rights tribunal if I am refused service at Lu's pharmacy when i go to fill my next prescription.
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feminist
Eastvandude, what part of "Women-only" are you not allowing yourself to understand?
Your attitude is exactly why women-only spaces are needed. Check your privilege at the door, it's not wanted here.
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Angry Lesbian
Feminist, what part of discrimination and violation of human rights don't you understand. No one should be denied access to health care. Period.
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Feminist
Angry Lesbian, there are literally hundreds of pharmacies in Vancouver. Only one is Women only. Nobody is denying eastvandude anything.

The problem with Lu's is that they're denying women access to a women's space. Anybody signing himself as "eastvandude' is hardly likely to be a woman.
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D.
" no transwoman needs to be abused in court the was Kimberly Nixon was"

I want to correct this assertion and a few others. I am a member of Vancouver Rape Relief and Women's Shelter, who Kimberly Nixon took to court. Here are some basic facts.


First, the court concluded that we took all the steps necessary to ensure the dignity of Kimberly was protected. In other words the court ruled that we had acted in good faith and did not harm her dignity.

Vancouver Rape Relief and Women's Shelter never took Ms Nixon to court we exercised our right to defend ourselves from a court based complaint brought on by Kimberly Nixon. Kimberly went to the state to demand access to our group. She had a trial in the court of her choosing.

In the end the court upheld that as a political group with a genuine mission to further women's equality rights we were entitled to defend the group of women we chose to fight for and with.

This case lasted 10 years, in which Ms. Nixon was entitled to public funding and we had to raise our defense money ourselves.

Since the superior court decision reversed the decsion of the lower court the money that was supposed to come back to our 24hr rape crisis line and transition house has not been returned.

What we were fighting for is for our group to have the right to define our own membership and those we as a political group fighting patriarchal forces that affect women from the time they are born until the day they die, and that those treated as girls and women from birth share similar expereinces that constitute a particular oppresssion ( not the only oppression and not identical experiences but similar).

We argued that those expereinces of being born a girl and raised to womanhood is what we use to build our support work, analysis and strategies when working with raped and battered women.

Since our case Aboriginal groups have used the argument ie the right for an oppressed group to define its membership, in their own struggle to defend themselves against white folks demanding entry into Aborginal only arenas.


I want to acknowledge the work of the Women's Health Collective as one of the longest operating feminist women's groups in Vancouver. Who have been fighting patriarchal forces that force women to have substandard healthcare. Congratulations on the achievement of a woman only phramacy as part of the work of fighting for women's equality.

If you want to read about the case and get accurate information we have most of the trial hearings on our website:
www.rapereliefshelter.bc.ca


Daisy Kler
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A Trans Feminist
D, we don't need you putting your distorted view of the truth in this discussion. It is already well known that Rape Relief is transphobic, you don't need to prove it again. The Fallacy of "women born women" has been long since discredited. Repeat it as you may, it still remains false. The same goes for the argument that one must grow up female. This assumes that there is only One True Way to be female, which is an utter crock. There are as many ways to be female as there are women in this world. Neither you nor anyone else has the right to declare one to be authentic and another to be inauthentic.

Yes, the Supreme Court of Canada upheld you right to be transphobic bigots. What you conveniently gloss over is that during those 10 years you Lost. Every. Other. Case. and you endlessly, repeatedly appealed and appealed and appealed until at last you won. You decry the expense that you had to raise? If you hadn't been so stubbnornly bigoted you would not have needed to spend all that money on lawyers and could instead have spent it on victims of assaults instead. How many women went unsheltered and at risk to pay for your intolerance during those 10 years? Your "victory" was a hollow one, made at the expense of every other woman outside your little group of bigotted transphobes. You boast, you gloat that your "victory" has allowed other groups to be equally bigoted. And you don't think that's wrong? You claim that oppressed groups have the right to define their membership? Well what about my oppressed group, the one that you are busy oppressing? Guess what? You claim the right to define me. Hypocritical much?

But enough of that. You came in here in an attempt to derail this conversation away from Lu's transphobic stance onto yours, which has already used up far too much time. This conversation is not about you. We will not alow you to derail this conversation.
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Devil's Advocate
Is the women's hospital discriminatory too?
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Come On Now
Devil's Advocate, my pharmacy doesn't provide bone density testing (among hundreds of other procedures) *because they are a pharmacy*, not a hospital. Big difference. Stop conflating the two to distract from the topic at hand, which is that Lu's is refusing to fill the prescriptions of trans women.
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Non trans feminist
Yeah, D, so Rape Relief is transphobic too. We know, we know. Seriously, are you proud of the fact that trans people don't have sufficient human rights protection? Are you happy to exploit that to get away with your bigotry? Not so long ago, the law also allowed women to be raped by their husbands. Did that make it right? Not so long ago, gays weren't permitted to advertise gay groups in newspapers, and the law upheld that. Was that right? You won the right to define who a woman is. Congratulations, I can't think of anything less feminist than taking away a woman's right to self-determination. But whatever. Knock yourself out while you're still allowed to.
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westender
This enterprise is a step backwards for all kinds...
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Lincoln Rose
As a transgender man in a relationship with a transgender woman, she and I both want to know one thing:

How does the pharmacy intend to enforce this?

If you are going to say that you will only serve "WBW" (yech) then how will you make every single customer prove it?

Will they have to tell you they have ( or did have at one point) a vagina? Will you ask them every time they fill a scrip, or make a special box you can mark in their fil on the computer, so that each person pulling up the file wil know that they are certified "original vag-pure" or whatever?

That's what orgs like this place and VRR don't bother dealing with. Once they have public support for their bigoted beliefs, they just go flowing right along with the mainstream assumption that everyone they see in front of them was born as they appear, unless it somehow is "obvious".

Either these "special" policies need to be enforced with every customer or they need to be seen for what they are: bigotry, plain and simple.

To the woman who posted here from Rape Relief, I am DYING to know how you have made sure since that court case that every single volunteer or paid staff you've taken on is 100 percent pure BORN WOMAN. Do you have a section in your application where folks are required to disclose? If you don't, then all you did was get a court to uphold your bigotry.

If you're too damn lazy to actually DO the gender policing you whine that you need the right to do or your fragile little psyvhes will implode, then suck it up and expand your definition of womanhood.

Greetings from Seattle, where I thought WE had a buttload of work to do,

Lincoln Rose
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Megan
You go girls. The bigotry I see here form the pharmacy and Rape Relief is shocking. Rape relief claims to be a "Champion against Patriarchy" yet uses the the very same system through the Courts to justify their stance. Well said in telling them its "not about you" in this post.

Very glad to see common sense prevailed and you have access to the Pharmacy now, don't hold you breath about Rape Relief though.
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