A woman has filed a human rights complaint against a Toronto shelter for female recovering addicts, claiming staff forced her to share a small double room with a pre-operative male-to-female transgender person.
The formal complaint against the Jean Tweed Centre, which runs Palmerston House, followed Kristi Hanna’s efforts to inquire about her own legal rights in this unusual situation, only to be told by Ontario’s Human Rights Legal Support Centre that, by describing her new roommate as a “man,” Hanna was the one engaged in illegal discrimination.
Hanna, 37, is a former paramedic who has lately worked in the service industry, and has been struggling with the lingering effects of sexual abuse and resulting problems with addiction to alcohol and cocaine. She described herself as an “active ally in the LGBTQ community,” but said this conflict has left her feeling as if vulnerable women are unable to voice their own gender-based rights for fear of violating someone else’s.
“It’s affecting everyone in the house. This can completely ruin your recovery, let alone your safety, let alone your life,” Hanna said in an interview.
She spent two nights sharing the room — constantly looking over to make sure her roommate was still in bed, she said — before taking an indefinite leave from the shelter. Hanna had lived for seven months at the central Toronto facility, located in an old Victorian house, but since last week has been staying with friends on couches, as a “transient,” she said. “Those two nights were hell for me.”
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