A human rights complaint lodged against the Manitoba government argues the province discriminates against transgender and non-binary people.

The Public Interest Law Centre and Trans Manitoba, acting on behalf of a group of non-binary Manitobans, have filed a series of complaints with the Manitoba Human Rights Commission.

The complaint refers to discrimination based on sex and/or gender identity under section 13(1) of the Manitoba Human Rights Code.

“Trans and non-binary people in Manitoba are being underserved, and in some cases outright ignored by the Government of Manitoba,” said PILC lawyer Allison Fenske in a news release. “Our clients want to end government practices that erase the identities and needs of trans and non-binary people.”

Part of their goal is to ensure a non-binary sex or gender option is available on all Manitoba government forms and ID where that information is necessary. That includes birth certificates, health registration cards, and driver’s licences, among others.

The group believes the current system leads to a lack of statistical data for non-binary people, impacting the government’s ability to provide programs and services.

The complaint also takes aim at barriers to health care.

The group says transgender and non-binary people often experience discrimination in the health-care system, and many stop seeking care altogether as a result.

They point to “confusing and non-transparent” practices that limit access to insured benefits and to barriers that prevent people from accessing medical transition or gender affirming health care.

”I don't know a single trans or non-binary person, including myself, who has not had a disagreeable or abusive encounter with the Manitoba health care system,” says Lara Rae, a member of Trans Manitoba. “My experiences have ranged from constant and deliberate misgendering to sexually inappropriate questions.”

The group says the lack of appropriate health care can lead to medical errors as well as poorer physical and mental health.

In a statement the province said: "The Manitoba government recognizes that gender identity and expression is an important and evolving issue, and we are actively monitoring emerging Canadian developments and regularly consulting with our counterparts in other jurisdictions. 

"However, we have not been formally served with the complaint, and it would be premature to comment in advance of any proceedings."