Sophia Banks @sophiaphotos and the Landlord and Tenant Board (Canada)


Sophia Banks claims that his landlord issued an eviction notice to him because the landlord didn’t like the fact that he identifies as a woman. Banks refused to leave, maintaining that the eviction was illegal because the landlord hadn’t filed formal notice with the Landlord and Tenant Board.

Banks’ landlord took the case to the board. The adjudicator referred to Banks as a man, which made it hard for Banks to believe he’d gotten a fair hearing.

Banks wrote to Parkdale-High Park MPP Cheri DiNovo. Since DiNovo’s historic initiative adding protections for trans people to the Ontario Human Rights Code, discrimination based on gender expression and gender identity has been illegal.

After hearing from Banks about her ordeal, DiNovo sent a sternly worded letter to the Landlord and Tenant Board.

She received a response from Michael Gottheil, executive chair of Social Justice Tribunals Ontario (of which the Landlord and Tenant Board is part), assuring her that the treatment Banks received would not happen again.

But it did, when a different mediator involved in his case misgendered him.

In a second letter to DiNovo, Gottheil wrote that management had spoken with Banks’s adjudicator but had not yet communicated the message to the broader staff.

Banks’ landlord maintains she was legally entitled to evict her tenant to move into the unit herself, where she now lives.

“The first adjudicator wasn’t aware that [Banks] was transsexual, so [getting his gender right] was confusing the first time around,” says the landlord. “The second time, we talked to a mediator who was trying really hard. But I think it was so difficult because of the way [Banks] presents.”

Banks is pleased that drawing attention to his case has affected protocol at the Landlord and Tenant Board, but to allege discrimination in his board ruling, he’d have to begin a formal complaint process.

Transforming gender norms _ NOW Magazine.