TORONTO, January 31, 2014 ( – The head of Ontario’s human rights commission is defending the right of ‘transgendered’ men to use women’s changing rooms in response to a woman’s complaint that she was ogled by a naked man who was sexually aroused at her local Y.

In a letter to a Toronto Star ethics columnist earlier this month the woman complained that the man, who claimed to be transgendered, asked her uncomfortable questions, including if she “came here often.”

“I understand that gender is no longer judged solely by genitalia,” the woman wrote to the Star, “but does a brief contact with the duty manager mean that men not yet committed to gender reassignment are free to disrobe anywhere they choose?”


In a letter to the editor January 13th, OHRC Chief Commissioner Barbara Hall insisted “unwanted sexual behaviour is never acceptable,” but also charged that the woman’s complaint “advance[s] some common misinformation that has caused serious harm to the transgender community.”

Hall said there is no documented case of a heterosexual man gaining access to a women's changeroom by “posing as transgender,” but charged rather that “a stereotype of connecting transgender people with wrongdoing and being sexual predators” has put “transgender persons more at risk than anyone else of being harassed, abused, assaulted, or even killed.”

Hall also dismissed continued calls to the OHRC “to segrate (sic) transgender people into separate bathroom and changing spaces, for the good of the larger majority,” as nothing more than a “practice based on fear and stereotypes.”

She said such proposals are “exactly opposite the vision of Ontario’s Human Rights Code, which is to build an Ontario based on inclusion, where everyone feels a part of and is able to contribute to the community.”

“The Ontario Human Rights Code exists to benefit all Ontarians,” Hall concluded, “including transgender people, who often have a daily battle to overcome the barriers that misunderstanding, fear and intolerance cause.”

The Star's columnist Ken Gallinger suggested that the man's behaviour in the women's change room was not only disrespectful but probably illegal.

“I don’t know, obviously, whether the person you encountered was truly trans, or merely a poseur getting his kicks,” Gallinger wrote.

“The physical evidence makes me suspect the latter,” he stated.

“In any event, this person’s behaviour was unacceptable and, arguably, illegal. I urge you to report her (him?) to the management. People like this can’t be skulking around locker rooms, not because of gender issues, but because they have no respect for boundaries — and could be dangerous. Be very clear about the nature of your fears; you were the victim of an inappropriate sexual advance.”

Christina Blizzard of the Sun News Network was more strident in her remarks on Hall's response to the woman's story, noting the hypocrisy the OHRC is displaying.

“We have women-only swim times at an aquatic centre in Regent Park in order to accommodate certain religious and cultural minorities for whom communal bathing is a no-no. And the OHRC supports that,” Blizzard said in a “Straight Talk” video segment titled “Political correctness shouldn't trump common sense.”

“It begs the question: If a transgendered woman with a penis busts a female Islamic swim class in downtown Toronto, whose human rights take precedence?”

“It was a question I wanted to ask Hall,” Blizzard said. “Sadly, though, she did not want to be interviewed for my column Tuesday. A call to her office elicited the response that Hall said everything she wanted to in her letter.”

Contact info:

Barbara Hall, Chief Commissioner
Ontario Human Rights Commission
180 Dundas Street West, Suite 900
Toronto, Ontario  M7A 2R9
Phone: (416) 326-9511
Toll Free: 1-800-387-9080
Email: [email protected]

Information on how and to whom to make a complaint about the OHRC regarding staff, policy or operational procedure, is available here