The following press release from ASTT(e)Q (Action Santé Travesti(e)s et Transsexuel(le)s du Québec):
Transsexual and transgender women denied access to shelters as temperatures drop in Montréal
ASTT(e)Q urges Québec shelters to change discriminatory practices
25 January, 2013 - As temperatures drop to extreme lows, transsexual and transgender women in Montréal continue to be turned away from many homeless women’s shelters. Over the past week of bitter cold, ASTT(e)Q, a local trans health project of CACTUS Montréal, has witnessed several of our members be denied shelter on the grounds of being trans. While such refusals are frequently justified by administrative regulations, members of ASTT(e)Q believe that these exclusive practices are rooted in discriminatory attitudes towards trans people.
A majority of women’s shelters throughout Québec require trans people to have undergone sex reassignment surgery, and/or to have changed their legal sex. “Such requirements are unattainable for most homeless trans people, due to prohibitive costs, and extensive administrative requirements,” says Mirha-Soleil Ross, staff of ASTT(e)Q. “Trans women are left with no alternatives, as men’s shelters are clearly not an option. With no place to turn, homeless trans women find themselves on the streets, which in -30 below temperatures is nothing short of deadly.”
“Just this week, a trans woman who had her surgery months ago was refused access to a woman’s shelter because she didn’t have an ‘F’ on her identity documents! While we believe trans people should have access to shelter and housing regardless of surgical status, this is a clear case of discrimination disguised as administrative regulations,” continues Ross.
“We are currently seeing many important legal and social advances for trans people, including in neighbouring Ontario where one can change their legal sex regardless of surgical status,” says Nora Butler Burke, coordinator of ASTT(e)Q. “In Québec, trans people have been relentlessly educating intervention workers and calling for shelters to address the exclusion of homeless trans people for decades. Yet shelters continue to refuse trans people based on the outdated policies of the Québec Department of Civil Status.”
In the context of life threatening temperatures, ASTT(e)Q urges all shelters to immediately remove barriers to admission for trans people based on the legal documentation in their possession and/or their surgical status. More broadly, we advocate for access to shelters, as well as other gender specific services, to be available according to one’s social identity rather than according to their legal or surgical status. We encourage organizations across Québec to work in collaboration with trans community groups to ensure that trans people are no longer denied access.
About ASTT(e)Q (Action Santé Travesti(e)s et Transsexuel(le)s du Québec)
ASTT(e)Q aims to promote the health and well-being of trans people through peer support and advocacy, education and outreach, and community empowerment and mobilization. We understand the health of trans people and our communities to be interrelated to economic and social inequalities, which have resulted in trans people experiencing disproportionate rates of poverty, un(der)employment, precarious housing, criminalization and violence. We believe in the right to self-determine our gender identity and gender expression free from coercion, violence and discrimination. We advocate for access to health care that will meet the many needs of our diverse communities, while working collectively to build supportive, healthy and resilient communities.
For interviews: Nora Butler Burke at 514-347-9462
For terms, definitions and additional information about trans people: www.santetranshealth.org