Transgender woman loses discrimination appeal

Appellate court rules that rejected transgender volunteer cannot claim discrimination

BY admin

December 09 2005 1:00 AM ET

A transgender
woman in Vancouver, Canada, who was expelled as a volunteer
for the Vancouver Rape Relief Society has lost her appeal of
a decision overturning her human rights award, the
National Post reports. Kimberly Nixon said
she now plans to take her case to Canada's highest
court.

The British
Columbia court of appeal on Wednesday found that while the
society had discriminated against her, it was shielded
from being held accountable under the province's
Human Rights Code. Nixon, 48, told the Post she
was "disappointed" but added she is "completely
resolved" to see the case to its full conclusion and
has always known it would end up in the supreme court
of Canada. "We are both disappointed and heartened," said
Nixon's attorney, Barbara Findlay. "The court of
appeal decided that Rape Relief did indeed
discriminate against Kimberly Nixon. That was something
that the court below had said otherwise. From our point of
view the battle is half won and we're on our way to
the supreme court."

Suzanne Jay of
Vancouver Rape Relief said she had not read the full
appeals court decision but was pleased nonetheless. "The
decision of the appeal court is a great victory," she
told the Post
. "It's confirmed our right to determine our
membership."

In August 1995,
Nixon was denied the chance to train and serve as a
volunteer peer counselor for the nonprofit organization.
They rejected her after discovering she had been born
a man but in 1990 had undergone sex-reassignment
surgery. Nixon filed a human-rights complaint, saying
she'd been devastated and humiliated by the decision, and a
British Columbia human rights tribunal found that
she had been discriminated against, awarding her
$7,500 in damages, at the time the highest amount ever
awarded in such a case.

The society
appealed, and British Columbia supreme court justice
Robert Edwards found Nixon had not been discriminated
against, setting aside the award. Nixon then appealed
the ruling, but a three-member panel of the appeals
court ruled that the society was protected in its
discrimination by the so-called group-rights section of the
code. (Advocate.com)

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