A transgender activist has won her human rights complaint against a federal government department for its practice of collecting data on people’s gender.

CUPE congratulates human rights activist Christin Milloy and other transgender and gender-variant individuals who continue the fight for equality.

Milloy filed a human rights complaint with the Canadian Human Rights Commission (CHRC) in January 2012. The complaint came after the federal ministry of Employment and Social Development Canada (ESDC) refused to change her gender designation on record with the Social Insurance Register.

On January 25, 2017, Milloy finally reached a settlement with ESDC – the body responsible for updating the Register and providing Canadians with social insurance numbers.

This goes beyond a personal victory for Milloy. As a result of the settlement, the government is conducting a review of its entire federal data collection system to analyze when it is justifiable to request gender data in accessing government services. In the meantime, ESDC will amend its documents and procedures to ensure that the provision of gender and sex data is optional when adding information to the social insurance database. In the case where the sex/gender question needs to be completed, there will be at least three choices: male, female, or a third option. 

CUPE recognizes the importance of statistics to plan public service delivery based on population composition. However, this can be achieved without collecting personally-identifiable gender information. When governments do that without specific and legitimate reasons, it can lead to discrimination.

CUPE applauds the work done by Christin Milloy and others in challenging systemic and institutional gender discrimination. We urge the government to follow through on their review without delay.