Kimberly Nixon v. Vancouver Rape Relief Society

(British Columbia) (Civil) (By Leave)




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Human rights – Group rights exemption – Sex Discrimination – Gender identity – Transsexual woman denied opportunity to train as volunteer peer counsellor with non-profit feminist organization providing services to women victims of male violence – Whether exclusion constitutes discrimination under B.C. Human Rights Code on basis of sex – Whether group rights provision operates to exempt organization from application of Code – Human Rights Code, R.S.B.C. 1996, c. 210, ss. 8, 41.

Kimberly Nixon, a post-operative male-to-female transsexual woman was denied the opportunity to train and serve as a volunteer peer counsellor with Vancouver Rape Relief Society, a non-profit feminist organization providing services to women victims of male violence. Rape Relief requires that everyone it trains as a peer counsellor have the shared experience of being "oppressed since birth" as a result of being born and raised female. At an initial training session, Ms. Nixon was identified as a person who had lived part of her life as a man and asked to leave. Ms. Nixon filed a human rights complaint against Rape Relief alleging discrimination on the basis of sex in providing a service customarily available to the public and in employment, contrary to ss. 8 and 13 of the B.C. Human Rights Code.

The British Columbia Human Rights Tribunal upheld Ms. Nixon's complaint and awarded $7500 against Rape Relief. On judicial review, the British Columbia Supreme Court found that discrimination had not been established and, in any event, s. 41 of the Code (group rights exemption) operated as a defence to exempt Rape Relief from the application of the Code's discrimination provisions. The British Columbia Court of Appeal dismissed Ms. Nixon's appeal

Lower Court Rulings

December 19, 2003
Supreme Court of British Columbia

L021846, 2003 BCSC 1936
Respondent's application for judicial review, allowed
December 7, 2005
Court of Appeal for British Columbia (Vancouver)

CA031546, 2005 BCCA 601
Applicant's appeal, dismissed