February 9, 2021
LEAF applauds the recent practice directions introduced by British Columbia’s Supreme and Provincial courts, which direct lawyers and parties as to how to advise judicial officers, other parties, and lawyers of their pronouns and salutations. Too often, institutional actors – in schools, in hospitals, in prisons, and certainly in courtrooms – see a person’s gender identity as a triable issue, rather than as a basic human right. With these new procedures, the B.C. courts have contributed to easing the discomfort that trans and gender non-conforming people experience with disturbing regularity in institutional spaces.
LEAF has not been immune to the urge to put a person’s gender identity on trial. In fact, LEAF’s mandate still does not explicitly include many who face gender-based discrimination. This is a fact that we are working to change.
The criticism of the practice directions received much attention this weekend – we support the messages of all those who name transphobia in the legal community, and demand we do better. Canada’s legal spaces have traditionally been hostile to all forms of difference; it is up to all of us to ensure that all participants recognize and respect the human rights and dignity of everyone who comes into contact with our legal systems.
We hope that all other jurisdictions will adopt these types of directions as soon as possible. At LEAF, we will do the work our organization needs so that our advocacy is inclusive of all those facing gender-based discrimination.