The Impact of Language on Trans Inclusion and Access to Justice

  • November 18, 2022
  • Alexandra McVittie, Articling Student, Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario

On November 7, hundreds of public sector lawyers travelled to Niagara Falls for the 2022 Association of Law Officers of the Crown (“ALOC”) Educational Conference. In addition to the substantive law offerings, there were several sessions canvassing issues of equity, inclusion and changing workplace culture. This article provides a high-level overview of the “Essential Practice Points in Trans Inclusion and Access to Justice” workshop.

The session was led by Lee Nevens, a civil litigator for the Department of Justice Canada in Vancouver. As a vocal member of the Canadian Bar Association’s BC Branch, Lee co-chaired its Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity Community section for years – spearheading countless education and advocacy projects, with particular emphasis on trans issues. In 2022, the Canadian Bar Association awarded them with the “Touchstone Award” in recognition of their successful promotion and furtherance of equity both within and beyond the legal community.

Joining the conference via Zoom, Lee began their presentation with a fantastic visual aid, Egale’s “Genderbread Person.” The aid was helpful in detangling aspects of identity that are often confused with one another. They explained that “sexual orientation,” “attraction,” “gender identity” and “gender expression,” all reflect the four components of human identity. These components are possessed by everyone; regardless of what terms a person uses to describe their identity. In doing so, Lee was able to reframe the concept of “identity” in a way that every attendee could relate to.