Ottawa Trans History

Sparks and O’Connor circa 1892. This building was until recently a Zellers store and is still in use.

Amendments and Additions

This page lists changes made to the Ottawa Trans History file since it was first uploaded. It excludes minor edits and spelling corrections. These amendments and additions have been incorporated into the original file.


Added November 17, 2020

September 1999

Trans Peoples Political Action Network (TPPAN) created. TPPAN sought to build a resource guide of trans-friendly doctors, counsellors, psychiatrists and support services. Matt L. was behind the initiative.

Added November 12, 2019


Housing Help, which assists people in finding safe, adequate and affordable housing, develops a registry for landlords interested in renting to a member of the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender communities. Registries were created for communities deemed vulnerable to housing insecurity.

Housing Help also advocates on behalf of people in need of housing, provides legal advice related to housing & discrimination and represents clients at the Ontario Rental Housing Tribunal.

Added March 24, 2019

August 28, 1971

(Entire entry)

June 18, 2014

Amanda Ryan and Amnesty International’s Alex Neve pen an op-ed article in the Ottawa Citizen that explains why human rights are essential for trans people and urges the passage of Bill C-279 through the Senate of Canada.

Added March 19, 2019

October 1, 2015

Venus Envy, a Bank Street sex shop, is fined $260 for selling a chest binder to a youth. The owner was deemed in violation of an Ottawa bylaw that stated no one under the age of 18 was permitted in an establishment where goods, entertainment or services that are “designed to appeal to erotic or sexual appetites or inclinations” are provided. Venus Envy was the only store in Ottawa at the time selling chest binders, a crucial item for transitioning trans youth.

Somerset Coun. Catherine McKenney said it was time to repeal the bylaw, a position supported by Ottawa Mayor Jim Watson. “These products need to be seen as health supports. They can be a critical part of social transitioning,” said McKenney.

Added March 2, 2019

September 8, 2015

Radio station Hot 89.9 announces the New Normal contest. The contest awarded a prize of $40,000 to a local trans person, and though there was no specific restriction on how the money should be spent, the hope was that it would help with their transition.

Although there were some obvious concerns expressed by the trans community that it not be a PR stunt, Hot 89.9 emphasized the point was to encourage dialogue with and raise awareness of the trans community. To their credit, it appears that they largely succeeded.

The winner, announced on October 5th, was Serena Rivard.

Added February 27, 2019

May 24, 2006

Amanda Ryan, Joanne Law and therapist Helma Seidl appear on Rogers Cable 22 TV program Talk Ottawa with host Jenn Gearey. The hour long show was mostly discussion about the “transgender lifestyle” with a viewer call in portion toward the end.

Added December 3, 2018

September 6, 2013

First meeting of Trans Outaouais held at Cap Santé Outaouais in Gatineau. Founded by Ève Jutras, Trans Outaouais is an open membership, French language discussion group for trans people from the Outaouais region. Meetings continue to be held Friday evenings at Cap Santé. The coordinators of Trans Outaouais also do outreach in the community.

Added March 3, 2018

June 1992

Natalie B. designs the Gender Mosaic key logo. The key represents the opening of the closet. The handle or G portion looks like the embryo in the womb. What we are is determined at birth. The handle lines swirl until it reaches the shaft of the key. Life is full of twists and turns, always in motion and carrying us in its wake. The shaft represents the straight and narrow road we follow when we take control of our life. The key end is in the form of a heart (and of course an M.) It unlocks the mysteries that lie ahead and our passion, leaving us in control of our lives and allowing us to open any door that confronts us along our paths.

The GM logo has been visible at most Gender Mosaic events. It has become part of the GM “brand” and has been displayed inventively on assorted objects. [Images included.]

July 2001

Joanne Law is named one of the Ottawa Pride Parade Marshals, a first for the trans community. She shared the position with three others. Joanne was sole Pride Parade Marshal in 2009. Other Parade Marshals from the trans community were Zelda Marshall in 2011, Amanda Ryan in 2013 (named Lifetime Achievement Marshal; see August 2013) and Charlie Lowthian-Rickert in 2016, who was just 10 years old at the time. (See August 2016.) [Photo included.]

February 22-23, 2003

The Working Group on Transgender Issues of the National Association of Women and the Law (NAWL) invited activists, academics and representatives from equality-seeking groups and organizations to a consultation on transgender and women’s substantive equality rights.

The consultation was intended to lay a foundation for the development of feminist and egalitarian approaches to law reform, litigation, and social policy on transgender rights that would respect and promote the substantive equality rights of all women. Ottawa participants included Cynthia Cousens, Sylvia Durand, Joanne Law, Lynn L., Matt L., Melanie P., Margo Ross and Gender Mosaic president Jan Hobbs.

December 9, 2003

First Trans Issues Committee held at the Egale office in Ottawa . Besides local participants, the meeting involved a national conference call to several communities across Canada. The list of participants were as follows. Gilles Executive Director of Egale, Chris, Lynn L., Joanne Law, Margo Ross, Melanie P. and Cory from Ottawa; Tami from Vancouver; Micky from Edmonton; Steven from Calgary; Susan and Laurie from Toronto and Martine who had to leave early from the dialogue. Facilitated by Susan Gapka.
The purpose of the Committee was to help Egale determine what actions they should undertake and what resources they should allocate to trans issues, particularly in pursuit of legislative changes.

August 2013

Amanda Ryan named Capital Pride’s Lifetime Achievement Grand Marshal. The honour recognized her persistent efforts in advancing trans equality, particularly in her work in educating and lobbying politicians. Randall Garrison said Amanda “has been such an asset in the fight for equality for transgender and gender variant Canadians and has helped me immensely in fighting for Bill C-279.” [Photo included.]

May 31, 2016

Joanne Law receives the Ottawa Police Community Service Award for 25 years of service with the Ottawa Police Liaison Committee for the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, and Trans Communities. Joanne was one of the founding members. She retired from the committee at the end of 2016. [Photo included.]

August 2016

Charlie Lowthian-Rickert chosen to be Grand Marshal in Ottawa’s Pride Parade. Charlie was just 10 years old at the time, but already well known for her advocacy for the rights of trans people. She joined Justice Minister Jody Wilson-Raybould May 17, 2016 on Parliament Hill for the tabling of Bill C-16. [Photo included.]


Added February 27, 2018

New entry for May 1998

Several members of Gender Mosaic start attending PFLAG Ottawa (Parents and Friends of Lesbians and Gays – Ottawa) meetings to help support parents of trans people.

Tara Sypniewski attended a PFLAG meeting on December 15, 1999 after being on Joanne Law’s radio show. Here’s her journal entry describing the visit: “Because Joanne had picked me up and I had neglected to ask whether she was going anywhere afterwards, I discovered I’d be attending the PFLAG dinner. They have pot luck dinners every second Wednesday (I believe) at St. John’s Church at the corner of Somerset and Elgin. What a bunch of nice people! I had a lovely time. The entire evening was so normal and stress free that I couldn’t help thinking how far we trans people had come.”

New entry for June 19, 2000

In one of the largest public displays of trans participation in Ottawa at the time, trans people, their partners, family and friends jam the Ottawa Police Liaison meeting to support a presentation to the Board on transgender issues.

New entry for June 9 2003

Ottawa consultation for the Trans Health Project held at Lynn L’s house. Over 20 participants attended the focus group to provide their input.

The Trans Health Project was sponsored by a workgroup of the Ontario Public Health Association (OPHA): The Public Health Alliance for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transsexual, Transgendered, Two-Spirit, Queer and Questioning Equity. It originated from an OPHA workgroup position paper on health care for gays and lesbians that identified a need to investigate access to health care for transpeople in Ontario. The principal Investigators were Rupert Raj and Susan Gapka.

New entry for November 20, 2003

The first vigil held in Ottawa at the Human Rights Monument on Elgin Street to commemorate the Transgender Day of Remembrance. There were about 50 people in attendance. Besides various trans folks, there were members from Pink Triangle Services, PFLAG, Egale, and the Ottawa Police Service, as well as local union representatives present. Vigil was organized by Melanie P.

New entry for December 2006

Christine Schulz receives news that she has been selected as a recruit for the Ottawa Police Service. At the time, she was one of only two transwomen recruits in Canada. Schulz prepared extensively for her dream job without knowing she’d be accepted, but was encouraged by deputy police chief at the time Larry Hill to apply. After she was hired, Schulz attended a 13-week course for new recruits at the Ontario Police College and then completed a probation period before the job was finally hers.


Added February 26, 2018

New entry for Feb. 27, 2015

At the Senate committee finally tasked with reviewing Bill C-279, Conservative Senator Donald Plett introduced three amendments. MP Randall Garrison, who introduced the bill back in September 2011, told reporters he didn’t have a problem with two of them, a tactical amendment to make it correspond to other legislation, like C-13, the Tories’ cyberbullying legislation and the removal of a definition for gender identity not included in his original bill, but added by Commons Conservatives to clarify its application before passage.

The third amendment, however, exempts places like prisons, crisis centres, and public washrooms and change rooms from the bill’s provisions. Garrison called that amendment “transphobic.” Those opposed also felt the amendment was a delay tactic that would eventually kill the bill outright.

The absurd contention behind the amendment was that pedophiles could be protected when they lurked in public bathrooms. Supporters of the amendment also claimed abused women would not feel comfortable among transgender individuals who had biologically male characteristics.

When the bill moved to the reports stage, where amendments were considered, trans people across the country protested. (See April 2015.)

During the debate over Bill C-279, Amnesty International approached Gender Mosaic to inquire how they could help promote passage of the bill. They initiated a group of Non Government Organizations, Unions and trans groups to form Trans Equality Canada. This group represented millions of Canadians and gave Gender Mosaic greater clout to lobby Senators. The letter sent to Senators with the list of more than 100 members of Trans Equality Canada is at

New entry for April 28, 2015

Occupotty organizers ask people to bring toilets or a toilet seat to Parliament Hill to protest Conservative Senator Donald Plett’s amendment to Bill C-279 that would essentially prevent transgender people from entering single-sex washrooms, change rooms or abuse shelters under federal jurisdiction. About 75 people attended the protest armed with signs saying “Check Your Potty Privilege” and “Flush Plett’s Amendment”.

Anne Lowthian, one of the organizers of the protest, said Plett’s stance shows “a distinct lack of understanding of the issues facing transgender people in Canada.”

“It’s offensive because it equates sexual deviance or predatory behaviour with gender identity, which is completely illogical,” Lowthian, a mother of a transgender child, told CTV News Channel.

Lowthian said activists have been asking Plett to revoke his amendment, but have not heard from him directly.

Lowthian said the #occupotty movement began with Brae Carnes, a young Victoria, B.C. transgender woman who began taking selfies in men’s washrooms and posting them on social media.

Although Bill C-279 died with the election call of August 2015, it’s long and arduous journey through Parliament had, perhaps, a positive side. It brought trans issues to the foreground and afforded trans folks the opportunity to educate the public.



Amendment date May 7, 2019

Amended entry November 20, 2010

A paragraph was added to the original entry (which was untouched):

Not all trans folks were thrilled with the police participation, however. About 15 activists attempted to hang a protest banner off the Queensway overpass at Elgin Street near the police station. Two were arrested for mischief.

Amendment date March 3, 2018

Amended entry November 4, 2003

The date in the original file was incorrectly listed as 2002. In the entry for the meeting with Svend Robinson regarding Bill C-250, I added a second paragraph:

Robinson indicated a willingness and desire to introduce amendments to the Canadian Human Rights Act and to the Criminal Code’s hate propaganda provisions in a subsequent bill. Part of the discussion was on how best to proceed with this initiative. Robinson felt that an independent, national trans organization would be beneficial. However, Gilles Marchildon of Egale Canada, several of whose members were also present, stated Egale’s willingness to assist in pursuing trans issues in consultation with, and the wide participation of, the trans community. Egale extended an invitation to trans people to participate in its upcoming Trans Issues Committee. (See December 3, 2003.)

Amended entry for May 2013

About 150 people attend Gender Mosaic’s 25th anniversary, the biggest turnout to that point for a GM event. Held at the Travelodge Hotel at the corner of Kirkwood and Carling Avenues, it was an evening of speeches, presentations, dinner and dancing. Ottawa Police Services were well represented, as police chief Charles Bordeleau was one of the official speakers. Other notable police attendees included Christine Schulz, the first trans officer with the Service, and David Zacharais from Ottawa Police Service Diversity and Race Relations section.

Amendment date February 26, 2018

Amended entry April 99

The original stated that a few members Gender Metaphor members “went to Gender Mosaic but ended up quitting after a few meetings.”

Revised entry: Membership dropped off over time and a few notable members moved to Gender Mosaic around 2003. These notables were Amanda Ryan, Samantha Perrin, Tanya Cross and Sophia D’Aoust.

February 18, 2012

The original entry was dated Summer 2015 (I took a wild guess) and stated that Sophia D’Aoust, Amanda Ryan, Nicki Ward, and Erin Apsit met for 75 minutes with Justin Trudeau and Hedy Fry prior to the 2015 election to lobby for the passage of a bill that adds gender expression and identity to the Canadian Human Rights Act should he become Prime Minister.

Under the revised date of February 18, 2012, the entry reads:

Sophia D’Aoust, Amanda Ryan, Nicki Ward, and Erin Apsit meet for 75 minutes with Justin Trudeau and Hedy Fry after Trudeau made comments in Parliament supporting Bill C-279. The meeting was to thank Trudeau for his support and to ask for his further support down the road. (Photo included!)

September 19, 2011

Clarification added.

Although Bill C-276 was read in the House of Commons first, it took second place to Randall Garrison’s private member’s bill C-279 in the draw for positions. If C-279 had failed, Fry would have pursued her bill further.

September 21, 2011

I expanded the original entry. It now reads:

NDP MP Randall Garrison introduces private member’s Bill C-279, an Act to amend the Canadian Human Rights Act and the Criminal Code (gender identity). Bill C-279 had an arduous journey through the lower and upper chambers of Parliament and was finally derailed by delays in the Senate and the proposed bathroom amendment by Conservative Senator Donald Plett.

Here is a summary of Bill C-279’s journey through Parliament after its first reading: 2nd reading and referral to Committee June 6, 2012; Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights December 10, 2012; 3rd reading March 20, 2013; First reading in Senate March 21, 2013; 2nd reading in Senate and referral to Committee May 29, 2013; Senate Standing Committee on Human Rights June 11, 2013; Reinstated from previous session October 16, 2013; Senate first reading October 17, 2013; Senate second reading and referral to Committee June 5, 2014; Senate Standing Committee on Legal and Constitutional Affairs, presented with amendments February 26, 2015; Consideration of Committee Reports, 4 sittings from March to June 2015; Last sitting of Parliament June 19, 2015. The bill died on the Senate order paper when the 2015 federal election was called August 2, 2015.

Needless to say, Bill C-279 carried the hopes of all trans folks and there was much disappointment and anger at the delays, amendments and final death of the bill. See also Feb 27, 2015 and April 28, 2015.

May 17, 2016

I added the exact date the bill was introduced (May 17) and added a preamble to the first sentence:

Fulfilling a campaign promise Justin Trudeau made in 2015, Liberal Justice Minister Jody Wilson-Raybould introduces federal legislation that would guarantee legal and human rights protection to transgender people across Canada (Bill C-16).

I deleted the section of this entry that acknowledged the help of Amnesty International and added a more complete acknowledgement in a new entry for Bill C-279 (February 27, 2015, above).