Trans rights are human rights
Human Rights Day was celebrated on December 10. It is a day dedicated to commemorating the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) and its enduring principles. It is, therefore, crucial to reflect on the state of human rights globally.
The UDHR, initiated in 1948, established universal values and a shared standard of achievement for all nations. While not legally binding, its profound impact is evident in the over 60 human rights instruments that have since emerged, collectively shaping the contemporary human rights framework.
In the Jamaican context, our commitment to these values is reflected in chapter 3 of our constitution, from which we have derived and updated our own Charter of Fundamental Rights and Freedoms. Though the charter ensures several legal rights for all Jamaicans, it falls short in affording complete protection to transgender individuals against discrimination based on gender identity or sexual orientation, as highlighted in Section 2(i).
The current language of the charter fails to extend adequate protection to transgender people, leaving them vulnerable to discrimination concerning gender identity and omits vital safeguards against discrimination based on race, place of origin, socio-economic class, colour, religion, or political ideas.
This deficiency raises serious concerns about the inclusivity of the charter, particularly in Section 3, which addresses the right to life, liberty, and security of the person as well as freedom of speech. Without comprehensive protection for transgender and gender non-conforming Jamaicans, the effectiveness of these provisions is questionable.
It is imperative to recognise that the right to life, liberty, security, and freedom of expression is compromised when inadequately safeguarded for transgender individuals. Therefore, we must emphasise that trans rights are human rights, deserving the same protection as any other rights outlined in the charter.
In light of these considerations, I urge a re-evaluation of the Charter of Fundamental Rights and Freedoms. A positive step towards securing the rights and freedoms of the Jamaican transgender and gender non-conforming population would be the explicit inclusion of the right to freedom from discrimination, irrespective of gender identity or sexual orientation.
As we reflect on Human Rights Day, let us reaffirm our commitment to creating a society that upholds the principles of equality, justice, and freedom for all its citizens.
Policy and Advocacy Manager