Sun. Jul 14th, 2024

Trans civil servants exhausted from “fighting”

Natasha Kumar By Natasha Kumar Mar20,2024

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<p class=Public servant Zak Dezainde-Dubuc tries, without success, to change his name in the various computer systems of the federal government.

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Speech synthesis, based on artificial intelligence, makes it possible to generate spoken text from written text.

Transgender and non-binary employees of the federal government are urging their employer to review its practices so that they can change their identity in all computer systems. Citing technical and financial reasons, Ottawa warns that it will be necessary to wait “several years” before it can change its name or use the gender marker “X” everywhere.

When you try to change your name, it's a bit of a free-for-all, says Zak Dezainde-Dubuc. Since the legal formalities completed last summer, this trans civil servant has taken steps to change his name with his employer.

He listed around twenty locations where his name appears, such as human resources, the payroll department and different computer systems.

“I have to fight to prove my own identity,” says Zak Dezainde-Dubuc, a trans civil servant.

Despite emails and calls to several people, my old name still appears in several places, says the Gatineau who has worked for the federal government for five years. ball, from one department to another, […] we are basically told anything because there is no formal process, deplores Mr. Dezainde-Dubuc.

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He no longer counts the hours spent explaining and re-explaining his situation to the same departments .

I have to fight to prove my own identity, it's dehumanizing.

A quote from Zak Dezainde-Dubuc, federal civil servant

Without embarrassment, he admits that it is extremely draining.

Sometimes, he says that we still call him by his morinom, the first name given at his birth. Each time, this reveals his transidentity, he laments, mentioning being afraid of being discriminated against or harassed.

Mr. Dezainde-Dubuc says he is proud to be a transgender man, but at the same time, this is personal information.

For non-binary public servants , having your identity recognized by the federal government is just as difficult, because the use of the gender marker 4 hnvfyV”>To be paid, I was forced to choose a binary gender, man or woman, testifies a non-binary trans civil servant who spoke confidentially.

Radio-Canada has agreed to protect this source because it fears professional repercussions if it publicly criticizes its employer on this subject.

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This public servant believes the government should change its hiring process to be more inclusive.

Not surprised, the civil servant nevertheless feels frustrated, because the gender marker X appears on his provincial and federal identity documents. It doesn't make sense to me, [the gender identity I legally use] should be accepted, should be valid in every field, especially as a government employee, he relates.

This is a contradiction, according to him, since the federal government issues passports with the X marker.

The quintessence of the trans experience is entering a box so as not to make waves [and] for those of Among us who have chosen to be publicly ourselves, it's frustrating to be put back in that box.

A quote from A federal official speaking off the record

The message that this sends is that the Government of Canada does not hire non-binary people and I don't think that is the message it wants to send, argues the civil servant.

However, he is convinced that things can change. According to him, it would set the right tone for the rest of Canada.

Adding a box with the gender marker

Technically it takes five minutes, but guaranteeing that if we do that, we don't break anything, it will take years, he summarizes.

Since government computer systems are numerous, complex, old, and often designed by third parties, a simple change can have completely crazy repercussions in a kind of domino effect, explains Mr. Mosser.

This is a big data synchronization problem, […] these are potentially huge projects in terms of costs.

A quote from Sébastien Mosser, professor of software engineering, McMaster University

The software engineering professor believes that without real political will, the government will fail to offer new identification options to civil servants.

Decision makers will have to decide whether the gain we obtain […] is worth it in relation to the financial cost indicates Mr. Mosser.

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The Treasury Board estimates that it will still be several years before public servants can choose the non-binary option in all computer systems of the government. (File photo)

In 2018, the Clerk of the Privy Council approved a strategic direction on sex and gender aimed, among other things, at introducing a non-binary option for all Canadians.

However, this is a complex transformation that will require concerted changes to processes and systems [and] this will take several years, concedes by email Martin Potvin, media relations at the Treasury Board Secretariat.

Although this is a government-wide policy, […] the Treasury Board has decided to devote time-limited resources to develop direction and help departments and agencies begin to implement the recommendations.

A quote from Martin Potvin, spokesperson, Treasury Board Secretariat

The spokesperson specifies that each of the ministries must implement these directives in a practical, gradual and cost-effective manner

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With other public servants, Jason Bett founded the Public Service Pride Network in 2018. With a limited budget, the group aims to help LGBT+ civil servants assert their rights.

I couldn't say that everything is going great and that we are where we want to be, notes the head of the Public Service Pride Network, Jason Bett.

This long-time activist, however, observes a change in culture. When he speaks with senior leaders, Jason Bett assures that he perceives a desire to move forward.

Mr. Bett points out that there are still small successes in certain [ministries] where people are able to change their name, so we are working with these organizations to implement new processes elsewhere.

The Ministry of Women and Gender Equality, which has overseen the file since 2020, refused to tell us how it ensures the application of the strategic orientations.

The issues facing trans and non-binary civil servants stir up dark memories for Martine Roy. Like hundreds of civil servants, this former soldier was dismissed because of her sexual orientation in the 1980s. A painful episode, which traumatized her and which still brings tears to her eyes.

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Martine Roy claims to have suffered for a long time from her unjustified dismissal from the Canadian army. For several years, she has campaigned to advance respect for the rights of members of the LGBT+ community.

In 2016, victims of the LGBT purge filed a class-action lawsuit against the government. A year later, Ottawa acknowledged its wrongs by presenting an official apology. With other victims, Martine Roy now manages the LBGT Purge Fund, which should be used to build a memorial and organize an exhibition.

It is very urgent that Ottawa act so that its transgender and non-binary employees can identify as they wish, so that others do not relive the same type of injustice as the victims of the purge LGBT, argues Martine Roy.

My big fear is the next government.

A quote from Martine Roy, president of the LGBT Purge Fund

The popularity of the Conservative Party of Canada in the polls makes it fear the worst for respect for the rights of members of the LGBTQ+ community. She wants to see changes in the civil service before a new government arrives. Otherwise, she believes, the person discriminated against at the moment will continue to be discriminated against.

Zak Dezainde-Dubuc urges the government to act, otherwise civil servants might consider changing jobs, like him.

I don't feel not respected as an employee.

A quote from Zak Dezainde-Dubuc, federal civil servant

If it continues to have an impact on my mental health, I cannot say that I will continue to work for an employer who does not respect my rights, reveals Mr. Dezainde-Dubuc.

Any person needing help or listening services related to questions relating to sexual diversity or gender plurality can communicate 24 hours a day with the Interligne organization (New window ) by phone or text messages. 1-888-505-1010

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Natasha Kumar

By Natasha Kumar

Natasha Kumar has been a reporter on the news desk since 2018. Before that she wrote about young adolescence and family dynamics for Styles and was the legal affairs correspondent for the Metro desk. Before joining The Times Hub, Natasha Kumar worked as a staff writer at the Village Voice and a freelancer for Newsday, The Wall Street Journal, GQ and Mirabella. To get in touch, contact me through my 1-800-268-7116

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