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Vancouver city council approves trans-inclusion plan

‘I could never have imagined a day like today,’ says Drew Dennis

Vancouver city council unanimously passed recommendations to make city facilities more inclusive for trans, gender-variant and two-spirit (TGV2S) people, July 13, 2016.

“I could never have imagined a day like today,” Drew Dennis, a consultant and former member and co-chair of the city’s LGBTQ2+ Advisory Committee, told council.

“Today is a moment to celebrate,” Dennis tells Daily Xtra.

The first work to be done — “quick-starts” earmarked to begin within six to 18 months — are:

• Update single-user washroom signage make them universal;

• Ensure resources are made available to create an implementation team and determine next steps;

• Provide TGV2S-inclusion training to city corporate management team and general managers;

• Develop a checklist for TGV2S-inclusion in city event protocols;

• Update priorities around city grants to reflect TGV2S-inclusion.

“We welcome the initiative to adapt our city to better meet the needs of transgender and gender-variant people,” Trans Alliance Society chair Morgane Oger told city council.

Oger said she is pleased to “emphatically endorse” the quick-starts and other recommendations in the consultants’ report, produced by TransFocus Consulting, run by Dennis and Kai Scott.

Morgane Oger tells council she “emphatically” endorses the recommendations. (Jeremy Hainsworth/Daily Xtra) 

Scott is also a former member and co-chair of the Vancouver park board’s inclusion committee for trans and gender-variant people.

Metha Brown of Equity Labs, a consultancy group on equity planning for gender diversity, also contributed to the report.

“This is a start,” Anne Nickerson, the city’s director of equal employment opportunity, told council. “It’s not the end.”

The report also contains 14 recommendations with 31 sub-recommendations.

The 14 recommendations for the city are divided into five pillars: public space, facilities and signage; programs and services; human resources; communications and data; and community consultation and public partnerships.

Nickerson suggested staff present a follow-up report to council next summer in time for Pride season.

Brown said TGV2S youth require particular attention, in part to address the challenges they face with discrimination, especially in housing and shelters. She believes consultation with municipal housing providers will assist at-risk youth.

While no funds have been earmarked to implement the quick-starts and their implementation team, Nickerson told council the work would be covered by departmental budgets.

“We don’t see any barriers to implementing quick-starts,” Nickerson said.

She says the city is also looking at working with city staff, who interact with youth at community centres and other venues, to increase their awareness on TGV2S issues.

Immediate changes could come around signage, and perhaps a change in the use of honorifics at city functions, Dennis tells Daily Xtra.

Such changes could lead the way for other organizations to follow suit, Dennis adds.

Out In Schools coordinator Brandon Yan told council no TGV2S person should have to explain themselves; rather they should be embraced by society.

“We believe gender identity and gender expression should be explicitly included in the BC Human Rights Code,” Yan added. “It is not.”

The recommendations follow council’s 2015 motion “Ensuring Trans Equality and an Inclusive Vancouver” passed last July.

Sections of the consultants’ report also deal with the Vancouver Police Department (VPD) and the Vancouver Public Library. Those sections will be forwarded to the appropriate boards for decisions there.

Nickerson said the VPD is moving forward on trans issues and recently released a training video entitled Walk with Me“They have been doing a variety of work with this community, really moving forward on steps for inclusion,” she said.

Editor's note, June 13, 2016: This article was updated to correctly identify Anne Nickerson's title as the city's director of equal employment opportunity, and Drew Dennis and Kai Scott as former members of the city committees they previously co-chaired. 

This story is filed under News & Ideas, Trans Issues, Vancouver