Accommodating transitioning employees

What are the legal requirements around washrooms and locker rooms?
By Leah Schatz
|Canadian HR Reporter|Last Updated: 12/21/2018

Question: If an employee declares they are transitioning their gender but still appear as their original gender, when is the employer legally required to allow the worker to use facilities such as washrooms or locker rooms for their new gender?

Answer: To appreciate the employer’s obligations, it is necessary to understand the distinction between sex, gender identity and gender expression. A person’s sex refers to the physical characteristics associated with being male or female. A person’s gender identity is a person’s sense of themselves and may either be different or the same as the sex they were assigned at birth. Gender expression is how a person presents their gender. How a person presents their gender may not necessarily reflect their gender identity.

In the past several years, provinces across Canada have amended human rights legislation to include gender identity or expression as prohibited grounds of discrimination. However, for those provinces without such legislation, transgender people are protected from discrimination on the ground of sex.