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The Laws That Affect Trans Canadians Are Super Confusing, But This Could Help

"Hopefully this makes people's lives a little bit easier."

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The laws that impact the lives of trans Canadians can be frustrating to navigate.

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Some provinces explicitly protect residents from discrimination based on gender identity — but some don't.

Some provinces require proof of sex-reassignment surgery to amend documents — some don't.

Some provinces have guidelines saying trans inmates should be housed with people with the same gender identity — some don't.

If you're a trans person in need of legal information or advice, it can be overwhelming, said Benjamin Vandorpe. That's why the 26-year-old created JusticeTrans, an app to make things a bit easier.

This summer, Vandorpe released a lite version of JusticeTrans, which puts legal information for trans Canadians at the tips of their fingers.

In the app, users can select a province and see information such as what's required to change the sex or name on government documents, and whether gender is a protected identity. It also lists names of lawyers and legal organizations that are trans-friendly.

"It can be really hard to find it all online and to navigate the legal system for information that should be readily-available," said Vandorpe, who is originally from Halifax but completed a law degree in Toronto.

"Hopefully this makes people's lives a little bit easier."

Vandorpe, who is trans himself, added that in cases such as harassment or assault, making it simpler to find information is especially important.

An updated version is expected to be released in the fall with additional information on areas like employment, family law and immigration. To get there, he's going to need volunteers and more funding for the not-for-profit project.

The app is available for free for both Android and Apple phones.

He came up with the idea for JusticeTrans in law school but was especially motivated after seeing the results of a 2010 survey looking at trans Ontarians.

Courtesy of Benjamin Vandorpe

Conducted by Trans Pulse, the survey found high rates of poverty, discrimination and suicide attempts among the respondents.

"These are pretty frightening statistics to look at when you see 50% of respondents earned less than $15,000 a year," said Vandorpe.

Lauren Strapagiel is a reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in Toronto, Canada.

Contact Lauren Strapagiel at

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