New TDSB rules ‘fantastic’ for transgender students

Things have come a long way for transgender students in the eight years since Jade Hines came out, she says.

The Toronto District School Board recently implemented a new policy for the accommodation of transgender and gender non-conforming students and staff. It allows anyone to request the use of a washroom that “best conforms to their gender identity” without having to prove their gender, the policy states.

As a school board, we must ensure that each and every student in our system, regardless of their gender identity, feels a sense of safety and belonging.

—Shaun Chen

“The new guidelines for accommodating trans students (are) fantastic,” said Hines, a 25-year-old transgender student at Ryerson University. “This generation is at least growing up in a world where trans people are discussed.

“When I came out (at 17, it) was nothing like (it is now).”

According to the guidelines, schools will also offer accessible, all-gender, single-stall washrooms for added privacy, where possible. In addition, schools must keep a student’s gender non-conformity or transgender status confidential unless the student’s consent is given.

“As a school board, we must ensure that each and every student in our system, regardless of their gender identity, feels a sense of safety and belonging,” Ward 21 TDSB trustee Shaun Chen said. “To accomplish this, we must accommodate different needs in different ways.”

Enza Anderson, a transgender political activist, welcomes the move.

“During my time it was uncharted waters,” the 48-year-old said. “I think people are starting to realize that there are other human rights that need to be addressed.

“Trans rights is now becoming a major focus and it’s important.”