2018 Essay Contest – Compelled Speech and Gender-Neutral Pronouns

2018 Essay Contest – Compelled Speech and Gender-Neutral Pronouns

Bill C-16, An Act to amend the Canadian Human Rights Act and the Criminal Code, was passed into law by the Parliament of Canada in June 2017. This law amends the Criminal Code and the Canadian Human Rights Act to add gender identity and gender expression to the list of prohibited grounds of discrimination. The Ontario Human Rights Commission has stated that refusing to refer to a trans person by their chosen name and a personal pronoun that matches their gender identity, or purposely misgendering, will likely be discrimination when it takes place in a social area covered by the Code, including employment, housing and services like education. As gender identity legislation and policies are being instituted across Canada, there are concerns that freedom of expression rights could be impeded by Bill C-16 and similar provincial statutes across Canada.

The Justice Centre for Constitutional Freedoms therefore asked students at Canadian colleges universities to answer (in 2500 words or less) the following question:

Should Canadians be required by law to use gender-neutral pronouns? Why or why not?


We received many thoughtful, well-written arguments, addressing the question from a variety of viewpoints.

The winners of the 2018 Essay Contest are:

1st Prize – Edward Strahlendorf, Queen’s University BA Honours (Philosophy)

2nd Prize – Hudi Krauss, University of Ottawa Faculty of Law

3rd Prize – Tina Praass, Wilfrid Laurier University Faculty of Social Work

The contest submission deadline has passed. Thank you for your interest. Please try again next year.