Support and Services to Transgender Women


Supports and Services for Transgender Women Experiencing Violence

A Position Paper by Veronica Merryfield

Canada has a global reputation in implementing legislation to protect the rights of minorities, such as people with gender identities and expressions who do not follow stereotypical views of how men and women should look like and behave. However, transgender people, whose personal identity and gender does not correspond with their birth sex, continue to suffer from discrimination leading to violence and exploitation.


Consider this:

In Ontario, 50% of trans people live off of less than $15,000 a year;

20% of trans people experience physical or sexual assault due to their identity, and 34% are subjected to verbal threats or harassment;

Many assaults go unreported and 24% of trans Ontarians reported having been harassed by police[1];

Police-reported hate crimes due to sexual orientation in Canada has been on the rise[2].


Anti-trans hostility is real, pervasive, and dangerous.


For transgender women, in addition to the victimization of women through the systematic oppression in public and private, the vulnerability to violence is exacerbated.

Recent radical exclusionary rhetoric is increasing these levels despite legal protections. The number of trans-identified women has been increasing slowly over the last twenty years or so. This is not so much a reflection of an underlying increase in occurrence but from a general easing of the stigmatization and broader acceptance of transgender people. In years past many just tried to survive as best they could. Transgender women are still a small and vulnerable minority and despite the societal changes, still vulnerable to abuse and a lack of general and knowledgeable support services.

Unlike other places in the world, including some parts of Canada, where some women-serving organizations refuse to help transgender women, Transition Houses in Nova Scotia do not discriminate based on gender identity in line with Nova Scotia’s Human Rights Commission. Within our capacity to do so, all member organizations of the Transition House Association of Nova Scotia provide shelter and support to female identified clients who find themselves victims of violence. As with all clients, Transition Houses provides a safe and welcoming space to support and meet their needs.

Veronica is a board member at Transition House Cape Breton Association, Willow House. Assigned male at birth, she has experienced abuse, violence and homelessness. She brings her first hand knowledge to help all clients of Transition Houses. You can reach her for further support on these issues at:


Further reading:

Testa, Rylan J., et al. “Effects of violence on transgender people.” Professional Psychology: Research and Practice 43.5 (2012): 452.

Police-reported hate crime, by type of motivation, Canada (selected police services) (

Transgender hate crimes are on the rise in Canada (

Transgender hate crimes are on the rise even in Canada (

Almost 30 percent of bisexual women, trans people live in poverty, report finds (

Gender Economic Inequality –

Anti-Violence | National Center for Transgender Equality (

Canada: Discrimination and Violence against Lesbian, Bisexual, and Transgender Women and Gender Diverse and Two Spirit People on the Basis of Sexual Orientation, Gender Identity and Gender Expression (

The Daily — Sexual minority people almost three times more likely to experience violent victimization than heterosexual people (



[1] Three statistics reported in McInnes, Sadie “Violence Against Trans People in Canada: A Primer”, 2017, Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives Manitoba Office. Violence Against Trans People in Canada: A Primer (

[2] Statistics Canada, Police-reported hate crime, by type of motivation, Canada (selected police services). 2019.  Police-reported hate crime, by type of motivation, Canada (selected police services) (