A woman has filed a human rights complaint against a Toronto shelter for assigning her a transgender roommate.
Kristi Hanna’s formal complaint against the Jean Tweed Centre, to the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario, where she was seeking assistance in recovering from the lingering effects of a sexual assault and drugs and alcohol addiction. She initially tried to enlist the help of the Ontario’s Human Rights Legal Support Centre, but was rebuffed.
She was told that as she continued to call the trans woman a “man,” and that the transgender woman she was calling to complain about might therefore call wishing to file a complaint against Hanna, the organization would not be able to assist for fear of creating a conflict of interests.
— National Post (@nationalpost) August 3, 2018
Last year, Canada passed legislation that added protections against hate speech on the basis of gender identity and expression to the Canadian Human Rights Act.
While Hanna (above) described herself as an “active ally in the LGBTQ community” to the National Post, she said that she, as well as some other women at the shelter, were made uncomfortable by the trans woman’s presence.
Hanna had been staying at the facility for nine months, but only lasted two nights after the transgender woman was assigned as her roommate, saying she spent those nights looking over her shoulder in fear she could be attacked.
She said she was told by staff that she could move to a private room when she came to them with her concerns, but turned down that option, as it didn’t have a door that closed, since it had fire escape access.
Lucy Hume, the outgoing executive director of the Jean Tweed Centre, said the agency was “fully aware of the requirements under the Ontario Human Rights Code and are well known for our work in providing trauma-informed care across our programs.”
“With respect to accommodating trans women, we do not discriminate; nor do we impose modifications with respect to accommodation,” Hume said. “We do, however, do our best to meet the needs of all parties affected in a way that complies with the requirements of shelter standards and trauma-informed practice.”
“They won’t even allow a man on the property without permission by the staff and all the residents. And we had no pre-warning of any of this. There was never any discussions. It was never mentioned. We were all just blindsided,” Hanna argued.
“A trans person should have access to the shelter that matches their lived gender identity,” said Renu Mandhane, Chief Commissioner of the Ontario Human Rights Commission. Mandhane added that accommodations can be made for separate sleeping quarters if concerns or issues arise, as was done in this instance.