Taking the law into his own hands
Written by Victoria Ptashnick
Issue: Fall 2012, Canadian Lawyer Magazine
Ben Vandorpe first knew something was wrong when he, then a seven-year-old girl, was forced to have a separate bath from his male friend. “We had been playing and his mother said it was bath time and because I was a girl and he was a boy, we would be bathed separately,” says Vandorpe. “I just remember crying non-stop and for the first time, being really aware of my gender,” he says.
It was the first painful realization of many for Vandorpe, now 22 and identifying as a queer transgender man. He says his personal journey is what inspired him to apply to Osgoode Hall Law School. He was accepted and begins in September. “Now I’ll have a shot at changing legislation that makes life hard for trans people. I couldn’t be doing this now, though, without having gone through everything in my past,” he says.
He says he hopes to tackle federal protections for trans people in his career as a lawyer. “It’s been a long journey but I think finally all my experience has led me to this point. I’m hopeful about the future and it’s a good feeling knowing through law, I’ll be able to make a positive difference.”