Straight Talk – Transgender activist opposes Downtown Eastside pharmacy ban


The Vancouver Women’s Health Collective says transgender
women will not be served at its new pharmacy on the Downtown Eastside. And that
has a neighbourhood transgender activist alleging that the collective is
discriminating against women like herself.

“That’s not acceptable,” Jamie Lee Hamilton told the
Straight in a phone interview. “No city licence should be given out to
any business that operates in the city of Vancouver if it chooses to

Hamilton added that she plans on filling her next hormone prescription at
Lu’s: A Pharmacy for Women, which opened on July 7 at 29 West Hastings
The collective’s executive director, Caryn Duncan, told the
Straight in a phone interview that her organization’s steering committee
discussed whether or not to extend service to all “self-identified women”. In
the end, members decided to serve “women born women”.
“We are an organization that has for almost 40 years supported women around
their battle with breast cancer or unwanted pregnancy or delivering a baby with
a midwife, [and] celebrating or dealing with menopause,” Duncan said. “It’s
about bleeding—or wanting to bleed or not bleed. It’s about being a woman, and
the physiology of being a woman.”
She claimed that the pharmacy doesn’t have the expertise or capacity to serve
transgender women. “I think we’re being very reasonable,” Duncan said. “I
believe the massive groundswell of support for our pharmacy and for our work is
evidence that what we do is supported in the broader community.”
The B.C. Court of Appeal has upheld women-only organizations’ legal right to
restrict membership to women and not admit transgender people. Hamilton,
however, claimed that the court’s ruling dealt with organizations and not with a
business that provides a health service.


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