Hockey Canada’s Ontario Branch Takes Important Step Toward Transgender Inclusion
Toronto — Hockey Canada, through its Ontario branches, ushers in a new era of transgender inclusion in time for the 2016-2017 hockey season by posting transgender inclusive policies. This step is part of a settlement agreement between Hockey Canada, on behalf of its Ontario members, the Ontario Human Rights Commission (OHRC) and Jesse Thompson, a trans teenaged boy who played amateur hockey and courageously decided to take on the system.
The new policies create a more trans-inclusive environment by upholding the human rights of transgender and gender-diverse players. Players who identify as trans can use the dressing room corresponding to their gender identity, be addressed by their preferred name and pronoun, and have the privacy and confidentiality of their transgender status respected.
“There is nothing more quintessentially Canadian than hockey and that’s why it is so significant that these policies are welcoming and inclusive of trans youth in sports. Sports can be a real driver for social inclusion and I call on other organizations to follow their lead,” said OHRC Chief Commissioner Renu Mandhane. “Transgender people have the right to access services and facilities based on their lived gender identity. Anything less is discriminatory.”
“I’m really happy that moving forward, trans kids will be able to fully participate with their hockey teams. For me, when I was on the ice with my team, nothing else mattered,” Jesse Thompson said. “Hockey Canada is iconic and globally known and I hope other organizations will follow their example.”
“Jesse’s courage and passion for justice inspired us all. His determination shows how much one person’s struggle can transform lives for the future,” said Melissa Mark, Jesse’s lawyer from the Human Rights Legal Support Centre.
Chris Mosier, transgender athlete and Vice President of Program Development and Community Relations at You Can Play said “Hockey Canada’s role in the mediation reaffirmed its commitment to providing a safe and comfortable environment for all players, including its trans and gender non-conforming players, in the hockey community. You Can Play applauds not only the new policy, but also the educational efforts to raise awareness around trans issues.”
In 2013, Jesse Thompson filed a human rights application at the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario against Hockey Canada alleging discrimination in services based on gender identity. As an amateur hockey player, Thompson was denied access to the boys’ locker room, which he alleged “outed” him as trans and exposed him to harassment and bullying.
Hockey Canada’s new Ontario policies on gender identity and expression are the result of the J.T. v. Hockey Canada et. al. settlement agreement (read more about the case), in which Thompson was represented by the Human Rights Legal Support Centre and the OHRC intervened as a full party.
In 2017 Hockey Canada’s Ontario branches have agreed to deliver training on the policies to more than 30,000 coaches and trainers in Ontario.