Guidelines for Accommodating Gender Identity and Gender Expression
This guideline must be read in conjunction with the City’s Accommodation Policy and corresponding Procedures.
The term ‘Management’ refers to Divisional supervisors and managers, as well as Human Resources staff.
The City’s Accommodation Policy outlines the City’s legal obligation to accommodate individuals in accordance with the City’s Human Rights and Anti-Harassment/Discrimination Policy and Ontario’s Human Rights Code (Code). This guide has been prepared to raise awareness and fulfill our shared obligation to accommodate employees, job applicants and service recipients based on the grounds of Gender Identity and Gender Expression.
The Code requires that all employees, job applicants and service recipients be treated equally and without discrimination based on gender identity and gender expression, and accommodate to the point of undue hardship (see Accommodation Policy for details).
Gender Identity and Gender Expression
Gender Identity is the gender that people identify with or how they perceive themselves, which may be different from their birth-assigned sex. Gender identity is linked to a sense of self, the sense of being woman, man, both, neither or anywhere on along the gender spectrum (non-binary). Gender identity is completely separate from sexual orientation.
Gender Expression is the way people communicate or express their gender identity publicly; often through behaviour and physical appearance, e.g., dressing, the length and style of hair, or by emphasizing, de-emphasizing or changing physical characteristics. Chosen names and preferred pronouns are also ways in which people express gender. Gender expression is totally separate from sexual orientation
Gender Identity/Gender Expression Accommodation
Common gender identities are transgender, genderqueer, gender non-conforming, cisgender, two-spirit and intersex persons, or other people whose gender identity or expression are, or are seen to be, different from their birth-assigned sex. “Trans” is an umbrella term used to describe people with diverse gender identities and expressions that differ from stereotypical gender norms.
All employees, job applicants and service recipients have a right to be treated with respect and dignity, dress in accordance with and be identified by and referred to as their self-identified or expressed gender.
Policies, rules, practices and procedures that promote gender conformity or fail to consider a diversity of gender identities and expressions may be discriminatory and breach the City’s Accommodation Policy. For example, forms that require employees or service users to provide gender information but do not provide options beyond “male” and “female” or dress codes that prescribe differing standards for men and women based on gender stereotypes reinforce gender conformity and fail to accommodate based on gender expression and gender identity.
Principles of Good Accommodation for Gender Identity and Gender Expression
Good accommodation for gender identity and gender expression is individualized, promotes integration and full participation, is consistent with inclusive design whenever possible and respects privacy.
The City provides individualized accommodation. For example, where some trans employees may request that Management communicate a particular message about the use of pronouns to their team in the workplace, other trans employees may request the opportunity to communicate with their team directly about a change in pronoun.
Wherever possible, the City provides barrier-free inclusive design upfront. City forms should be reviewed and edited for inclusivity at the design stage, negating the need for people to request changes that better accommodate gender identity and expression once the form is in use.
Assessing Accommodation Requests
The City protects confidentiality for people who need accommodation for gender expression and/or gender identity. Information that either directly or or indirectly identifies employees or service users based on sex (assuming that information is collected at all) must be kept confidential by the City to the maximum extent possible.
Information relating to specific requests for accommodation must only be used to assess and implement accommodation options and solutions. The City must comply with all privacy, confidentiality and security requirements of the Municipal Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act
The examples below identify common accommodation requests based on gender expression and/or gender identity and provide tips in providing accommodation.
Please consult the Human Rights Office when assessing accommodation requests.
The correct use of pronouns is an important component of accommodating based on gender expression and/or gender identity. If people request the use of a particular pronoun as an accommodation, grant that accommodation and use the correct pronoun. Do not refer to people by an incorrect pronoun once you have established what they prefer. If a mistake occurs, acknowledge it and work to correct it. If there is uncertainty about the required pronoun, ask respectfully. To increase inclusivity at events, consider including a space for people to include their own preferred pronouns on name cards.
Name and Gender Title Changes
Legal name changes can take time to process depending on the circumstances. During the processing period and upon request, use the new name and gender title (Ms., Mr., Mrs., etc.) for emails, phone directories, corporate identification/access cards, name plates etc. The only exception is for any records that must match a person’s legal name. For assistance, contact the Human Rights Office.
Develop an Individualized Accommodation Plan to address what (if any) accommodation the City should provide. An Individualized Accommodation Plan may need to include information about the use of a new name, the correct pronoun, the accommodation of any medical needs (including time to attend appointments), and how best to inform others in the workplace. See the end of this document for a list of resources to assist transitioning employees.
Employees have a right to accommodation for gender-affirming surgery if that is part of their transition. Employees who require leave for surgeries may be required to provide medical documentation to verify the need for leave (consistent with existing sick leave provisions). This information must be treated confidentially
Employees and service recipients have a right to use a washroom that corresponds to their expressed gender identity, regardless of their sex assigned at birth. Gender identity is based on self-determination only. Do not require medical documentation or any other form of “proof” to establish gender identity. Self-identification is the only criterion required to determine which washroom people use.
City employees and Management should not direct people to a gendered washroom, but should instead inform people of the various washroom options available so they can decide which one to use for themselves. If people raise concerns about trans or gender non-conforming people’s use of a multi-stall washroom, kindly suggest to those who raise the concerns that they may use a single-stall washroom if one is available. When possible, create and/or offer an accessible gender-neutral washroom.
Consult the City’s Public Health Division’s detailed Gender Inclusive Washroom Policy for more information (the link is only available internally)
Locker Rooms/Change Facilities
Employees and service recipients have a right to use a change facility that corresponds to their gender identity, regardless of their sex assigned at birth.
Consider how to balance privacy expectations of other users with legislated protections and the safety of a trans person. Where appropriate, create and/or offer an accessible gender-neutral change facility. Although not ideal, offering a private space within a gender-specific change facility may be an appropriate accommodation option while awaiting the creation of gender neutral spaces.
Glossary of Terms
The 519 provides a Glossary of Terms that may be helpful when accommodating people in accordance with this guideline. A sample of terms from the 519’s Glossary is reproduced below. The full glossary is available at the above link.
Cisgender is used to explain the phenomena where a person’s gender identity is in line with or “matches” the sex they were assigned at birth. Cis can also be used as a prefix to an assortment of words to refer to the alignment of gender identity and the assigned at birth sex status including: cisnormativity, cissexual, cisgender, cis male, cis female.
Gender is based on the expectations and stereotypes about behaviours, actions, and roles, linked to being a “man” or “woman” within a particular culture or society. The social norms related to gender can vary depending on the culture, and can change over time.
Genderqueer/Gender Non-Conforming/Gender Variant
Individuals who do not follow gender stereotypes based on the sex they were assigned at birth. They may identify and express themselves as “feminine men” or “masculine women” or as androgynous, outside of the categories “boy/man” and “girl/woman”. People who are gender non-conforming may or may not identify a trans.
The representation of gender as a continuum, as opposed to a binary concept.
A term used to describe a person born with reproductive systems, chromosomes and/or hormones that are not easily characterized as male or female. This might include a woman with XY chromosomes or a man with ovaries instead of testes. Intersex characteristics occur in one out of every 1,500 births. Typically intersex people are assigned one sex, male or female, at birth. Some intersex people identify with their assigned sex, while others do not, and some choose to identify as intersex, intersex people may or may not identity as trans or transgender.
Sex is the classification of people as male, female or intersex. Sex is usually assigned at birth and is based on an assessment of a person’s reproductive systems, hormones, chromosomes and other physical characteristics.
Sexual Orientation is the direction of one’s sexual interest or attraction. It is a personal characteristic that forms part of who you are. It covers the range of human sexuality from lesbian and gay, to bisexual and straight.
Trans/Transgender is an umbrella term that describes people with diverse gender identities and gender expressions that do not conform to stereotypical ideas about what it means to be a girl/woman or boy/man in society. “Trans” can mean transcending beyond, existing between, or crossing over the gender spectrum. It includes but is not limited to people who identify as transgender, transsexual, cross-dressers or gender non-conforming (gender variant or gender-queer).
Trans identities include people whose gender identity is different from the gender associated with their birth-assigned sex. Trans people may or may not undergo medically supportive treatments, such as hormone therapy and a range of surgical procedures, to align their bodies with their internally felt gender identity.
Transition refers to a host of activities that some trans people may pursue to affirm their gender identity. this may include changes to their name, sex designation, dress, the use of specific pronouns, and possibly medically supportive treatments such as hormone therapy, sex-reassignment surgery or other procedures. There is no checklist or average time for a transition process, and no universal goal or endpoint. Each person will decide what meets their needs.
Transphobia is negative attitudes and feelings and the aversion to, fear or hatred or intolerance of trans people and communities. Like other prejudices, it is based on stereotypes and misconceptions that are used to justify discrimination, harassment, and violence towards trans people, or those perceived to be trans.
Two-Spirit is a term used by Indigenous people to describe from a cultural perspective people who are gay, lesbian, bisexual, trans, or intersex. It is used to capture a concept that exists in many different Indigenous cultures and languages. For some, the term two-spirit describes a societal and spiritual role that certain people played within traditional societies; they were often mediators, keepers of certain ceremonies; they transcended accepted roles of men and women, and filled a role as an established middle gender.
Ontario Human Rights Commission:
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EGAL Canada Human Rights Trust:
Human Rights Office: 416-392-8383 TTY 416-397-7332
Employee Assistance Program: 416-392-6633
Employee Health and Rehabilitation Services: 416-392-7330
Positive Space Toronto supports a more inclusive and welcoming environment for sexual and gender diversity
Understanding Functional Limitations
Human Rights and Anti-Harassment/Discrimination Policy
Human Rights and Anti-Harassment/Discrimination Policy Complaint Procedures
Director, Equity, Diversity and Human Rights Division
August 25, 2014
April 27, 2017