In the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, the following is written under the section for Mobility Rights:
Every citizen of Canada has the right to enter, remain in and leave Canada.
Every citizen of Canada and every person who has the status of a permanent resident of Canada has the right
(a) to move to and take up residence in any province; and
(b) to pursue the gaining of a livelihood in any province.
If you are a trans* Canadian though, medical gatekeeping caused by cissexism in the medical and political establishments impedes upon these rights. I’ve linked a helpful chart before which shows what treatments for trans* Canadians are covered, province-by-province. This chart is always on the back of my mind when Jaime and I discuss where to go for graduate school and where we will eventually settle down. British Columbia, Ontario, and Quebec are the only Canadian provinces where we could live without going through a massive financial and personal headache just to obtain procedures which are necessary for ensuing that my girlfriend can live the way that’s best and healthiest for her.
If we live anywhere else, we either have little to no chance of having the procedures covered (Alberta, anything East of Quebec or any of the territories) or have to deal with flying out of province for assessment and surgery, with none of the travel costs being covered (Saskatchewan, Manitoba) Briefly in both Ontario and British Columbia, funding for SRS was cut by different governments, so there’s no guarantee that even once we settled down there and started with the treatment, that we could continue with them after an election or if a government tried to pass itself off as fiscally savvy by cutting “unnecessary” services.
I’m planning on going into academia; I am not looking forward to a future where I have to tell potential employing universities that I can’t consider their school, not because I don’t want the job, but because the province it’s located in has considered my girlfriend’s health to be too unimportant to give any consideration towards.
I know what you are thinking right now, if you’re the type of person for whom human rights come second tier to your unique brand of pragmatism which only applies to people who aren’t like you: “But certainly being trans* isn’t the only medical condition which prevents you from living in a particular area! Suck it up, people with other chronic conditions have to live in metropolitan areas so that they can have access to the drugs and treatments they need to live, what makes you think transsexuality/transgenderism all that special?”
I shouldn’t have to dignify that line of thinking with an answer, but I’ll bite the bait and remind the unenlightened that this limitation isn’t because there are no doctors in the provinces who know how to perform these procedures, or because it requires special attention and accommodations. It has everything to do with cruel disregard for the lives and mental health of trans* people, by seeing procedures which keep them mentally healthy and enables them to pursue their lives as they see fit as being nuisances which should be the first thing to go, or worse, as a frivolity not worth any medical expenditure: “Why should I have to pay for some weirdo to get a boob job when there’s kids with leukaemia out there?”
Question*: If, tomorrow morning, the (already colossally unpopular) government of British Columbia announced that it was cutting all funding to services for mental health, mental illness, and suicide prevention, can you imagine yourself making the same claims of frivolity and skewed priorities to defend it? “Why should we pay for weirdos who can’t get a grip on reality when there are people with cancer?” I would hope not. This is no different, SRS coverage allows trans* people to fully function and live their lives and participate equally, without being held back by financial insecurity or living with the depression that comes from being forced to live with bodily dysphoria. It evens the playing field, in a way, by allowing trans* Canadians (and those who love them) to not have to worry so much about whether they’ll have access to basic medical care if they take up a new job** or move to a new place. Peace of mind is severely underrated by those who have never gotten by without it.
Canadians have the right to live and earn a livelihood in any province. But until we make sure that right is accessible to all Canadians, by ensuring that discrimination and lack of access in medical care, income, the job market, and other areas of life are a thing of the past for ALL Canadians, all that declaration is to me is a rather ironic empty promise.
* I normally don’t like using this line of logic to get to the point, because there’s so much wrong with it, the first part being that it presumes the person I’m asking has a single decent bone in their body, which isn’t always the case. But there are so many fundamentally clueless people out there who don’t get the hint, that it becomes necessary to use comparisons like this. Some Anvils Need to be Dropped.
** The exact same points in this post about covering SRS also apply to anti-discrimination laws based on gender identity and gender expression, by the way.