Gender-segregated Facilities

Many everyday spaces are segregated by gender—public washrooms and locker rooms, for example, are spaces that for the most part are gender segregated. Spaces commonly believed to be safe, such as public washrooms, are often instead sites of violence and exclusion for trans people, who routinely experience confused looks and harassment when trying to use a washroom.

Gender-segregated social services and resources meant to support people who experience poverty, violence, and discrimination are even more complicated to navigate. The difficulties trans people face in public spaces such as public washrooms and locker rooms are relatively minor, or at least brief, compared to those they experience in many homeless shelters, drug and alcohol detoxification and rehabilitation facilities, and some crisis support centres.

Prisons are another example of a gender-segregated facility that many trans people have to navigate. Because many aspects of their realities are criminalized, trans people are overrepresented in the prison system, and as prisons are gender segregated, trans people are aften housed according to their sex assigned at birth. They often experience transphobic violence and discrimination at the hands of both the prison population and staff. Furthermore, trans people in prisons have difficulty accessing relevant and respectful health care.

This chapter will briefly outline what access to shelters, drug and alcohol detoxification centres looks like in this province, as well as examine how institutional assignment and access to trans-specific services work in prisons.

Shelters

As of yet, there is no official policy in Québec with regards to how trans people are housed in gender-segregated shelters. Some cities, such as Toronto and New York, have city-wide policies that outline trans admittance to shelters, which are mandated to provide services to trans people, regardless of the gender marker on their ID. In Québec, no such policy exists.

Generally, admittance to shelters is determined on a case-by-case basis, and this means that many trans people are turned away. Some shelters have informal policies where they will only accept a limited number of trans people per night, or some house trans people in private rooms, as opposed to the general dorms. While some trans people appreciate the privacy of separate room, for many others, this can be an isolating experience.

Because no trans policy exists within shelters in Québec, access is often granted based on the discretion of the staff. Advocating for a trans person accessing a shelter could mean calling the shelter in advance and offering to discuss misconceptions and fears about trans people.

Alcohol and Drug Detoxification and Rehabilitation Centres

Similarly to shelters, alcohol and drug detoxification and rehabilitation centres in Québec do not have an official policy regarding how trans people are housed, and access is usually granted on a case-by-case basis. Most often, though, people are housed according to the gender marker on their government-issued ID.

Prisons

Trans people are disproportionately targeted by police violence and brutality and are overrepresented in prisons. Due to discrimination and the legalities surrounding sex work, poverty, homelessness, and drug use, many trans people come in contact with the criminal justice system.

Institutional Assignment

As gender-segregated facilities, prisons determine institutional assignment for trans people based on the status of the person’s genitals, and not on the individual’s gender identity. This means, for example, that a pre- or non-operative trans woman would be housed in a men’s prison. This policy is the same for both federal prisons and provincial jails.

Hormones

The Correctional Services Canada policy on trans people in federal prison states that a trans person can continue hormones while in federal prison, if they had a valid prescription before they were incarcerated. Initiation of Hormone Replacement Therapy while in prison is possible only with permission from a “recognized expert in the area of gender identity.” So, hormone initiation in federal prisons is possible in theory, but because there are so few health care professionals who work regularly with trans people, and because “expertise” in the field of trans health is rare, access is most often granted at the discretion of the individual guards, wardens, and medical staff who work in the prisons.

While this federal policy exists, in practice, trans people are most often granted access to hormones in prison based on what kind of treatment they had before being incarcerated. This means that if a trans person had been using hormones that they acquired on the black market, without a prescription, they would be denied access to hormones in prison. If they had a prescription, and had been followed by a doctor on the outside, chances are they would have an easier time accessing their hormones on the inside.

In provincial jails (for people who are serving sentences of less than two years), access to hormones is only accessible to those who had a prescription for hormones before incarceration.

Sex Reassignment Surgery

Sex Reassignment Surgeries are not covered for people in either federal prisons or provincial jails. Up until November 2010, according to Correctional Service Canada’s policy on trans prisoners, Sex Reassignment Surgeries were covered for those serving sentences in federal prisons. Similar to initiation of hormone therapy, surgeries were accessible with a recommendation from a “recognized gender identity specialist.” This policy has recently been changed, as the Conservative government has stated that Sex Reassignment Surgery is not an essential medical service.

The Correctional Service Canada policy on trans inmates can be found at, http://www.csc-scc.gc.ca/text/plcy/cdshtm/800-cde-fra.shtml.