Episode 69 (En anglais): Transgender and Non-Binary Asylum Seekers in Canada

– Sep 2023

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Episode 69 (En anglais): Transgender and Non-Binary Asylum Seekers in Canada
Broadcast Date: September 7, 2023


In 1991, Canada was “the first country to accept refugee petitions based on persecution due to sexual orientation or gender identity.” Over the years, recognition of 2SLGBTQIA+ vulnerability has caused the number of sexual orientation and gender identity refugee claims to increase in the country. Does Canada’s identity as a safe haven allow for an easy entry system for these claimants? In this podcast, host Sarah Rowe addresses this question and more with guests Kelly Ernst and Jay De Santi.


Kelly Ernst is the Chief Program Officer at Centre for Newcomers in Calgary, Alberta and the President of the End of the Rainbow Foundation. He has a Ph.D. in Educational Psychology from the University of Calgary and additional education including from the Harvard Business School.

Kelly has more than 3 decades of human rights advocacy, education, and publishing associated most recently with his current roles, but also as Past-President of the Rocky Mountain Civil Liberties Association, Senior Program Director at the Sheldon Chumir Foundation for Ethics in Leadership, and through many other board or professional positions. His work has included helping to press for legislation in Alberta to allow GSA’s in schools. It has led to various awards such as The Queen Elizabeth II’s Platinum Jubilee Medal, 2020 Stars of Alberta Volunteer Award, and the Alberta Civil Liberties Human Rights Award.

Jay De Santi is a PhD student at Osgoode Hall Law School at York University, where they previously completed their Master of Laws degree. Their doctoral research engages in a comparative project on rights protection regimes in the extradition systems of multiple common law states. Their research interests include the interaction between law and borders, including extradition and criminal law, the uses and limitations of rights protections, as well as the impacts of the law on trans people. They obtained their bachelor of laws/ bachelor of civil law from McGill University, and they are a member of the Law Society of Ontario.


Sarah Rowe is a second-year law student at University of Ottawa interested in social justice issues related to health, immigration, and marginalized communities.

She was born and raised in St. John’s, NL and lived there for most of her 20s. She worked as lifeguard for 11 years from high school into her undergraduate degree and during her first-year of law school. She spent quite a bit of time abroad, including studying abroad in England, working abroad in France, and general travel around Europe, the United States, and Canada.

In her spare time, she enjoys swimming, running, biking, and going to the gym, as well as writing and playing music.

Related Documentation

On anti-trans legislation in the United States and the United Kingdom:

On gender-affirming care for trans and gender diverse people:

On Refugee Claims and Trans People in Canada’s Refugee Process:

On the Rise of Anti-Trans Political and Legal Acts in Canada:

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