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Hockey Canada amends change room policy after transgender player's complaint

09/16/2014 08:29 EDT | Updated 06/16/2017 00:54 EDT
Hockey Canada is changing its co-ed dressing room policy in Ontario after a transgender teen filed a complaint with the province's human rights commission about problems he's had using change rooms.

"I'm just so happy and so excited for everyone in Ontario," said Jesse Thompson, who was born a girl but now identifies as a boy. He started playing hockey when he was four years old and now plays for a boys' team.

He had trouble finding his place in the locker room. The boys' room was off-limits and he often wasn't welcome with the girls either.

"I was always stuck in a hard place," he explained, adding that he would miss out on team conversations and post-game parties because he was "forced off into another change room."

The frustrated player complained to the Ontario Human Rights Commission with the help of the Human Rights Legal Support Centre.

Thanks to a settlement with Hockey Canada, Thompson will be able to use the same dressing room as the rest of his team this season.

Hockey Canada agreed to amend its Ontario dressing-room rules to allow players to use a change room that best corresponds with their gender identity.

Players will also be called by their chosen name and referred to by the pronouns of the gender they identify with.

As well, Hockey Canada will train all of its trainers and coaches in the province on gender identity, gender expression, and discrimination and harassment.

Currently, the settlement only applies to Ontario.

But Janina Fogels, a lawyer with the Human Rights Legal Support Centre, said "it is our hope that Hockey Canada will rethink the policy for all over Canada."

Hockey Canada said it has no plans to expand the changes beyond Ontario.

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