The Road to Inclusion: Trans Rights Bill C-389 Moves Toward Third Reading

Canada’s Trans Rights Bill C-389 will have its first hour of debate at third reading on December 7. A vote on third reading is expected in early 2011.

There is a Quick Facts article available to those answering Charles McVety’s bathroom predator scare tactics or wanting more info on what the bill proposes to do.  Fortunately, much of Canadian media recognize that the potty fearmongering isn’t a whole lot different than the arguments used to justify racial segregation in washrooms in the south decades earlier or the panic raised in the early days of HIV… so the mythic potty predator panic meme doesn’t seem to be getting the same kind of airplay that it gets in the US.

More Support and Web Links So You Can Express Yours

In the meantime, Bill C-389 is receiving more positive support.  The Public Service Alliance of Canada has expressed its support and set up a web form through which people can contact their Member of Parliament if they haven’t already.

“PSAC has negotiated contract language prohibiting discrimination based on gender identity or expression and the Northwest Territories territorial human rights legislation, provides these protections to its residents.

“It’s time for the federal government to do the same. Everyone deserves dignity and respect in the workplace and on the streets.”

Or, if you prefer to freep with your response, the anti-LGBT organization Association for Reformed Political Action (ARPA) Canada has an EasyMail form that you can delete the text to and write your own letter opposing the ARPA action and supporting trans rights.

The United Church of Canada Supports Trans Rights

The United Church of Canada has added its voice to those calling for the bill’s passage, and they encourage their parishoners to contact their MPs to do the same:

In November 2009 the General Council Executive approved the following motion:

  • God has brought forth human beings as creatures who are male, female, and sometimes dramatically or subtly a complex mix of male and female in their bodies. Human cultures have created a broad diversity of roles for men and women, and have sometimes created roles for people named as neither man nor woman often revered and respected roles. Broadly speaking, anyone whose identity, appearance, or behaviour falls outside of conventional gender norms can be described as transgender. However, not everyone whose appearance or behaviour is gender-atypical will identify as a transgender person.
  • There are numerous biblical affirmations of the goodness of creation and the love of God for all people, including Genesis 1, Psalm 139, John 1:1–5, Acts 10:34–43, Galatians 3:27–28. The gospel reminds us that we are different but not unequal. The apostle Paul, who was dealing with pluralism and diversities, writes to the Galatians about a new identity: “As many of you as were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. There is no longer Jew or Greek, there is no longer slave or free, there is no longer male or female; for all of you are one in Christ Jesus.”
  • Transgender people are currently offering valuable ministry within The United Church of Canada, both as lay people and as clergy. Responses to numerous programs have called for the transformation of gender roles that are oppressive for men or women, or otherwise not fully reflective of Christian values.
  • As a church we affirm and are committed to the full participation and ministries of gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, two spirit, and queer (GLBTTQ) people within our courts.

It is a reality that transgender, transsexual, and gender-diverse (variant) people suffer extremely high rates of discrimination and violence. But they’re not yet explicitly protected from discrimination anywhere in Canada except the Northwest Territories….

City Support

Vancouver City Councillor Ellen Woodsworth tabled a motion on November 17th to express that city’s support for Bill C-389.  It passed unanimously. The City of Ottawa will be voting on a similar ordinance in early December.  Any others?  Are those cities also looking into trans inclusive ordinances of their own?  It’s worth asking, since I think the only city that has already done so already is Toronto.

And More

The Canadian Bar Association has also endorsed C-389, as have EgaleCanada and CPATH.  Some have been asking me why Egale isn’t doing more, and I really don’t know.  I do give the head of the Trans Issues Committee credit for working hard on trans issues overall and I know that advocacy isn’t always in the public eye.  I’d like to believe that there is more happening behind the scenes, but it would be encouraging to actually see more than a letter from our one national LGBT organization.  If I missed it, let me know.

Likewise, if I’ve missed other public expressions of support, let me know.  I’ll update or append them in the comments.

Transgender Day of Remembrance

While the religious right took up mocking the Transgender Day of Remembrance, we saw a growth in TDoR events, both in number and attendance… plus a few firsts.

Ottawa was notable this year in that their original plans for a Transgender Day of Remembrance march turned into two separate marches, when some were upset about the Ottawa Police Services leading it.  The OPS participation is historic.  There were some questions raised when two participants in the opposing march in Ottawa were arrested, but they’ve not been charged, and there are some questions on both sides of that story.

The Empire Strikes Back: Gender Reassignment Surgery Cut For Trans People in Correctional Facilities

The Federal Conservatives have responded by playing politics.  Public Safety Minister Vic Toews instructed Correctional Service Canada (CSC) to immediately halt funding for gender reassignment surgery in the prison system.

A 2001 Canadian Human Rights Tribunal decision, backed up by a 2003 federal court ruling, recognized the medical evidence that GRS be considered essential medical treatment.  So the Conservative government is in direct violation of what Canada has already been ordered to fund under existing protections.

I’ve talked about this elsewhere, but this is a clear ploy by the Conservative government to exploit an even less popular minority in order to fabricate an argument that claims that extending human rights to trans people means (in their usual sensationalistic twisting of language) “having to pay for sex changes for murderers and rapists.”

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