Pushed (Back) Into the Closet: Research Findings on the Safety Needs of LGBTTIQQ2S Women and Trans Communities of Toronto

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Link: http://www.metrac.org/resources/downloads/pushed.back.report.09.pdf
By: Ruth Cameron
Org: METRAC, 519 Church St. Community Centre
Date: 2009

This research report summarizes findings of an online survey conducted to assess the safety needs of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transsexual, transgender, intersex, queer, questioning, and two-spirited (LGBTTIQQ2S) women and trans individuals in the City of Toronto. The purpose of the report is to:

  • gain a general understanding of women’s and trans communities' experience with and fear of violence in public spaces within the City of Toronto, and;
  • use the information to develop and enhance safety resources for these communities.


The presence of a few famous prominent gay and lesbian individuals in popular culture may give members of mainstream society the impression that equality, acceptance, and the opportunity to live a life free of harassment based on sexual orientation or gender identity are available to LGBTTIQQ2S-identified individuals. This misperception contrasts greatly with the lived experiences of many lesbian, gay, bisexual, transsexual, transgender, intersex, queer, questioning, and two-spirited (LGBTTIQQ2S) women and trans individuals in the City of Toronto and elsewhere.

The results of this survey illustrate their experiences of harassment, intimidation, and vandalism in public spaces, as well as damage to private property and physical assault, which have occurred in city streets, home neighborhoods, and workplaces. While some legal and communitybased measures have been employed to address hate crimes and oppressive practices in recent years, additional prevention and education initiatives for mainstream communities are required to address the full range of oppressive interactions and confrontations that LGBTTIQQ2S communities commonly face.


Overall, results derived from this pilot survey point to the need for further quantitative and qualitative research on the prevalence, nature, and impact of harassment, discrimination, and violent hate crimes in the City of Toronto's LGBTTIQQ2S communities.

Attention for the purposes of prevention of further incidents of harassment, discrimination, and violent hate crime must be focused on the mainstream community to improve the everyday lives and experiences of LGBTTIQQ2S persons.

Recommendations for Action include:

  • Increased advocacy to recognize hate crimes motivated by bias based on gender identity and gender expression under the Criminal Code of Canada and various human rights-related legislation, including the Ontario Human Rights Code.
  • An education campaign developed by the Ontario Human Rights Commission to inform community members about workplace harassment and how to report and address it.
  • Increased education for community service agencies and medical service providers to increase understanding about sexual orientation and gender identity bias, violence, and discrimination. Medical practitioners must be educated about providing appropriate medical care and support for LGBTTIQQ2S communities in general, as well as the ways they can support victims of homophobic hate and bias-motivated crime.
  • A city-funded educational campaign to encourage privately-owned spaces (e.g. businesses, stores) to make their sites safe spaces [Positive Space Campaign] for LGBTTIQQ2S communities.
  • Further survey research with LGBTTIQQ2S communities in Toronto to determine the true prevalence of homophobic hate and bias-motivated crime and gender identity and gender expression bias-motivated crime, with the goal of developing resources to prevent crime and increase support for these communities.