RainCity sent an Open Letter to the Ministry of Public Safety and Solicitor General requesting they change their forms so they have inclusive language. You can read the letter below.
May 3rd, 2023
OPEN LETTER – Ministry of Public Safety and Solicitor General
Policing and Security Branch | Security Programs Division Criminal Records Review Program | Risk Assessment Office – P.O. Box 9217 Stn Prov Gov’t Victoria BC V8W 9J1
Dear Ministry of Public Safety and Solicitor General:
Re: Request to update forms with inclusive language
RainCity Housing is an organization that provides shelter and supportive housing, sustains relationships, strengthens communities, and makes change for people experiencing homelessness and mental health, trauma, and substance use issues. We serve a diverse group of people, and this diversity is reflected in our staff group. While we strive to be an organization that supports our clients and employees in their differences, some of the forms we are compelled to use are not reflective of this support, carrying non- inclusive binary language. Our wish is to dismantle this bias and ensure a safe space for our employees by ensuring that all employee-facing forms, documents, and paperwork show respect for our employees’ identities.
We call out to you to stand in solidarity with gender-diverse, gender queer, and non-binary trans people, and update the form “CRR010 Employee Consent to a Criminal Record Check”, which currently only provides a binary gender option.
Our organization understands that misgendering and disrespecting people’s gender identity is a form of discrimination. It can cause long-lasting physical and mental health harm to a historically disadvantaged group and its intersectionalities, and further negatively stigmatizing and invisibilizing them, furthering gender dysphoria. We recognize the detrimental impact of this and strive to have all our communications reflect our inclusion and equity values.
We see an emerging national trend in decentering normative identities. Since 2018, the Government of British Columbia in collaboration with ministries of Health, Citizens’ Services and Attorney General, provides its citizen the choice to display an ‘X’ as a gender in government-issued IDs and Birth Certificate. This option is also provided by Passport Canada. Both the United Nations and the Canadian Ministries have been studying a non-medical model of gender identification. As set in 2021 by the Tribunal Member Devyn Cousineau in a complaint before British Columbia Human Rights Tribunal (File CS-000956), gender identity is a fundamental part of a person’s identity, and it is both discriminatory and a violation of one’s dignity to undermine, erase, and degrade someone’s gender identity in their place of work. It adversely impacts their employment, and their safety is undermined. Devyn reminds us that Human Rights law is concerned with the impact of our choices, and not its intentions. Gender expression is at present a protected ground under the B.C. Human Rights Code.
It’s important for all organizations to take a step back and determine the relevance of preemptively collecting gender information. If it’s assessed that collecting gender information is of significant importance, the most inclusive way to do so is to allow participants to identify their gender in their own words, as no list could ever fully capture the expansiveness of gender diversity. At a minimum, organizations should strive to provide participants with non-binary gender options.
Taking the time to uproot systemic discrimination within an organization’s practices sends the message to all stakeholders that their identity and gender expression is seen, recognized, and respected. Inclusive forms provide a more accurate data collection of the diversity in our community, they affirm the community members of their humanity, and they are an important part of LGBTQ-affirming culture.
We hope you understand the gravity of this topic and how our nation’s systems have historically dismissed and failed to adequately respond to these concerns. We hope that we may hear your addressing of this urgent matter promptly.
We invite you to be part of the change. Thank you for your cooperation.
Catharine Hume & Greg Richmond
RainCity Housing and Support Society
616 Powell Street, Vancouver V6A 1H4