Thompson Rivers University

New law faculty member researching trans rights

  Posted on: September 28, 2017

Samuel Singer.

A new faculty member at TRU Law is helping to build an understanding of trans rights in Canada.

Samuel Singer recently took up his new post as assistant professor at TRU Law, and while his main research area is in tax and charity law, he is also a long time advocate for trans people.

Singer recently completed a research project for the Canadian Human Rights Commission that examined the historical evolution of trans rights.

“My research traced the development of trans rights in Canadian case law and legal scholarship. What really struck me was the collective impact of many individual trans people fighting for their rights,” Singer explained.

“Trans employees fighting back against discrimination at work, trans prisoners seeking access to trans medical treatments, trans parents who had to prove their capacity to parent, trans people advocating for identity papers that match their gender identities, and many more examples. These individual trans people together built a body of case law that has served to greatly improve the lives of trans people across Canada,” he added.

Marcella Daye, senior policy advisor with the Canadian Human Rights Commission, says Singer’s research is invaluable in mapping the historical development of trans rights and themes that have emerged in the courts.

“This research has helped us immensely as we provide policy advice for organizations, employers and service providers, to help ensure trans rights are better understood and respected,” said
Daye, indicating the research has had a broad impact.

“It’s been shared with other human rights commissions in Canada, with government departments, with employers and with parliamentarians to help us all learn more about the lived experience of trans folks and the barriers they experience. This in turn helps us to identify potential discriminatory barriers in the future and to better ensure equality for trans and gender diverse persons in Canada,” she said.

Singer is in Ottawa this week sharing highlights from his work at the Canadian Human Rights Commission’s 2017 symposium, Beyond Labels, a conference that brings together advocates, academics, employers, lawyers and citizens to challenge our thinking, behaviour, and the labels we use.

Singer will be speaking on a panel discussing gender identity and gender expression, and key next steps in the development of formal rights of trans and gender diverse people in Canada.

While thrilled to be participating in the symposium, Singer notes he is sad to miss out on the TRU Pride Parade on Thursday, Sept. 28, which occurs on the day he is presenting.

“I regret that I am missing the TRU Pride Parade during my first year here at TRU. My family and I were so excited to march in the first-ever downtown Kamloops Pride Parade in August. We were quite moved by the local support for LGBT communities, and it was a wonderful welcome to Kamloops,” Singer said.

Post-conference, Singer wants to continue the dialogue both locally and nationally.

“I look forward to connecting more with local LGBT communities at TRU and in Kamloops and learning about the work happening here.”

“In terms of trans rights in Canada, there are many challenges ahead. Trans people continue to face serious discrimination, and even more so those facing intersectional barriers, such as poor trans people and Indigenous and racialized trans women.”

“The future of trans rights must include those who are often at the margins of law reform efforts. In my current trans legal research, I focus on who has been left out of recent legal changes, and the creative legal strategies that trans people employ to improve their lives and obtain legal recognition.”

Singer is also faculty advisor to the TRU Outlaws, an LGBTQ law student advocate group that has been approved to intervene at the Supreme Court of Canada (SCC) later this year regarding the proposed law school at Trinity Western University (TWU).