Update on Bill C-389
I’ve been mostly offline, so have not been able to update folks on the progress of NDP MP Bill Siksay’s Bill C-389 the way I’d hoped. However, second reading took place as announced. From Xtra:
NDP MP Bill Siksay, the bill’s author, began debate by lamenting the fact that there were no openly trans people in Parliament, and therefore the debate would leave important things left unsaid, or that other issues would be said awkwardly for lack of personal experience. He also defined the terms “gender identity,” “gender expression,” and “transsexual,” so that the bill could be put into its proper context. He spoke at length about the need for the bill given that trans people are currently left without explicit human rights protections, that they faced increased violence and discrimination, and that the only jurisdiction in Canada with explicit protection for these kinds of protections was the Northwest Territories.
There is support for the bill from several parties, including at least a couple Conservative MPs. From the Liberals:
For the Liberals, Rob Oliphant … spoke about how this debate touched him on three levels – on a personal level, as he had friends who had transitioned; on a pastoral level, as he had addressed the issue in his former career as a United Church Minister, and had congregants in a small-c conservative congregation come up to him to talk about how it affected their lives, either through family or co-workers; and on a professional level, as he had once served on a human rights organisation, and that they felt a need for clarity in the laws. Oliphant also said that Canada should take a leadership role on the issue of protecting gender expression, and that the issue has been raised in the Liberal caucus, where he believes that consensus has been reached.
The way the Parliamentary process works, a bill is read into Parliament once (which occurred for Bill C-389 in May of last year), be selected by a draw among all Private Members Bills (anything not introduced by the governing party as an enactment of policy) to come up for second reading (which happened on May 10th), and in a few weeks time, will come up for a second hour of debate. The improbable part (getting to second reading) has passed, and it’s imperative that people contact their Member of Parliament to express their support for the bill now. If you’re in a Conservative riding, where the only likely reluctance is, it’s doubly important.
Bill C-389 facts: The Bill adds “gender identity” and “gender expression” to the list of protected classes in the hate crimes section of the Criminal Code of Canada, and also to the Canada Human Rights Act, which protects against discrimination in housing and employment. Currently, explicit protections only exist in the Northwest Territories and the City of Toronto. Implicit protections have been interpreted in the court and human rights processes, but they’re always subject to interpretation (i.e. a 2009 case in the US where implicit protections weren’t enough to cause a person’s gender identity to be given more weight than a company dress code).
From a Trans Health Lobby Group press release:
… Susan Gapka, Trans Health Lobby Group Chair announced, “This is a historic day for trans people in Canada. We applaude Bill Siksay and the NDP for introducing this bill and the Liberals and Bloc for their support on C-389.” Susan believes that when people learn more about trans
people and the challenges we face in every day life, they too will be compelled to support this bill.
The Rainbow Health Network encourages Canadian residents to contact their MPs to encourage speedy adoption of C-389.
Trans people often experience ‘Transphobia’, a form of discrimination directed against them based upon fear, ignorance and hatred. An example of this is ‘trans bashing’ and involves physical and/or
sexual violence directed against trans people.
Gender Identity would protect trans people (a term that includes, but is not limited to, transsexual and transgender persons). Gender Identity refers not to biological sex nor sexual orientation, but the inner sense of being male or female.
Gender expression is a personal characteristic, such as behaviour, appearance, or presentation by which a person expresses their gender identity and through which others perceive and understand a person’s gender….
Incidentally, in Ontario today, NDP MPP Cheri DiNovo re-introduced Toby’s Act, to amend the Ontario Human Rights Code to include “gender identity.”