Bill C-16 passed on June 15, 2017!
The United Church thanks all those who fought so hard for so many years, for the rights of trans, non-binary, gender diverse, and Two-Spirit people in Canada. We are grateful for the passionate and tireless advocacy of trans people and their families, friends, and allies.
We are thankful to former MP Bill Siksay, who first championed the Trans Rights Bill in 2005 and again in 2006 and 2008; MP Randall Garrison, who reintroduced the bill in 2011 and 2015; and Minister of Justice Jody Wilson-Raybould, who introduced Bill C-16 on May 2016. Thank you as well to those 67 senators who voted to pass Bill C-16 on June 15 this year.
As Brenda Cossman and Ido Katri wrote in The Globe and Mail, "The work of real equality has only just begun. Turning formal rights into substantive protections for trans and gender non-binary individuals will be a hard process, and Bill C-16 provides only the simplest of tools.”
God has brought forth human beings who are male, female, and sometimes dramatically or subtly a complex mix of male and female in their bodies. Trans people are ministers and leaders in the United Church. They are members of our families, our loved ones, our friends, colleagues, and neighbours, and they deserve to have their identities protected by the law.
The federal government once again has the opportunity to add gender identity and gender expression to the Canadian Human Rights Act and the Criminal Code. Bill C-16 would amend the Canadian Human Rights Act to prohibit discrimination on the grounds of gender identity and gender expression. It will also amend the Canadian Criminal Code to include gender identity and gender expression as a recognized group when offences are motivated by bias, prejudice, or hate.
Bill C-16 passed its third reading in the House of Commons in November 2016, and is now in its second reading in the Senate. The Senate Committee on Legal and Constitutional Affairs will commence hearings between May 4 and May 17 (note that it is always possible that hearings could be postponed). Some groups are actively campaigning the Senate to block this bill. Please take action by contacting your senator as soon as possible and urge the Senate to make Bill C-16 law.
- Write, call, or e-mail your provincial senators and ask them to support Bill C-16. You can find the names of your province’s senators and their contact information on the Parliament of Canada website.
- A sample letter is available under Downloads, below. A personal letter has greater impact, even if you keep it short. Send copies of your letters and e-mails to Christie Neufeldt ( cneufeldt [at] united-church.ca ).
- A draft script for a phone call is found on the Amnesty International website. (You can always call after hours and leave a voice message.)
- Share this Take Action on your social media networks. Use the hashtags #UCCan, #BillC16, #CdnPoli.
- Follow the status of Bill C-16.
- Read more about the United Church's work on gender identity.
The United Church is opposed to discrimination against any person on any basis, including gender identity. Transgender and genderqueer people face ongoing discrimination and can have serious difficulties accessing housing, health care, and employment. They frequently do not receive adequate protection under the law and are too often victims of violence. Trans people deserve to have their identity protected by the law the same way other marginalized populations do in Canada.
United Church minister and former NDP MP Bill Siksay first introduced a private member’s bill seeking human-rights protection for trans individuals in 2009, and tried two more times to pass such a bill before his retirement. Bill C-279 was the fourth attempt to pass legislation on gender identity. In 2014, it won the support of the House of Commons. The United Church signed on to a statement to Canadian Senators urging them to pass the bill; unfortunately, the bill died in the Senate in 2015.
In May 2016, Jody Wilson-Raybould, Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada, introduced Bill C-16 for its first reading. It has passed its third reading in the House of Commons and is now before the Senate.
For more information, see
- It’s Time to Enshrine the Rights and Protections of Transgender Canadians, by Senator Grant Mitchell
- Amnesty International's campaign
Send your letters to:
[Name of Senator]
The Senate of Canada
Ottawa, ON K1A 0A4
(Letters may be sent postage-free to Senators at this address.)
Send copies of your letters and e-mails to:
For more information contact: