This week, Canada’s House of Commons passed a bill that would add gender identity to the list of things protected in the Canadian Human Rights Act. The same bill has been introduced two previous times, and voted down each time, and though it passed by only a slim margin this time around, it marks a great moment.
I’d love for this to be a moment of huge rejoicing for the LGBT community (emphasis on the T), but the bill still has to be approved by the Senate before it can be put into law. And the current Senate (a body of appointed, not elected, individuals, I might add) is currently fairly conservative. So while I am ever hopeful, I’m not what you might call realistically optimistic. (But who knows?)
A particular article caught my eye yesterday in response to this great event. It comes from LifeSiteNews.com, a conservative religious news outlet, which should have warned me to take what it said with a grain of salt. Nonetheless, let me pull some quotes for you.
Pro-family leaders pointed out that organizations like the American College of Pediatricians treat gender confusion as a mental illness, meaning Canadian law would recognize a mental disorder as normal. This could, they say, make it even harder for children and others who struggle with gender identity disorder (GID) to obtain treatment.
It has been dubbed a ‘bathroom bill’ because it would allow men who say they are women to use women’s washrooms, with a danger of increasing bathroom attacks against women.
Pro-family leaders also warn that the federal government will be forced to hire gender-confused individuals, which could cause big problems for the military and the RCMP, for example. The government could even be required to pay for sex-change operations, and businesses could be obliged to hire transsexuals or install washrooms to accommodate cross-dressers.
Just this week, Campaign Life Coalition warned that the bill would further cement the move to have kindergarten students tackle “gender identity” issues. They pointed to Ontario’s full-day kindergarten curriculum which requires teachers to combat “preconceived notions” about the gender of the five-year-olds.
I wish I could say that the ignorance and hatred behind these quotes goes without saying, except clearly it doesn’t. “Gender Identity Disorder”? A mental illness? What is this, the 1950’s? You don’t need treatment for a disorder that doesn’t exist. What you need is treatment for the psychological trauma that comes from a society that thinks your personal gender identity is a disorder if it doesn’t conform to strict binaries that make no distinction between sex and gender.
Teaching about preconceived notions of gender to children isn’t even about transgenderism, it’s about kids being bullied because they don’t conform to outdated gender stereotypes. And is it so wrong for kids to understand that some people are boys inside girls’ bodies and vice versa?
And the “Bathroom Bill”? Really? Really? As Meghan Stabler, a member of the board of directors for the Human Rights Campaign writes,
One only needs to turn to the often repeated lie and unsubstantiated message from SPLC listed hate organizations, that use the predator presupposition regarding ‘men in dresses’ entering bathrooms to abduct and rape children and women…
I mean, really. (Lately, I’ve found myself rejoicing every time I come across a unisex washroom. Just saying.) (Also, read the rest of Stabler’s article; it’s worth it.)
Now, I realize that the article in question comes from a relatively extreme viewpoint, and that responding to it like this is an exercise in futility at best, and tantamount to feeding the trolls at worst. One might suggest that it’s not worth my time or energy to get worked up by the opinions of bigots.
But bigotry and hatred stem from ignorance, and in the face of an article like this, it’s my immediate desire to combat it with visibility. Only by bringing these things to light and trying to educate can we make a change. So how about some stats?
- Transgender people are four times more likely to live in poverty than others
- One in five report experiencing homelessness due to their gender identity or expression
- Transgender people are 26 times more likely to attempt suicide than the general population
- I’m going to repeat that one. 41% of transgender people report having attempted suicide
- 78% are harassed at school, including 35% physically assaulted; 90% are harassed at work
- 19% are refused medical care; 55% have to teach their doctors basic medical tenants
- 57% are rejected by their families
- 74% of transgender youth are sexually harassed at school
- Almost half of transgendered people (48%) report being assaulted, including assault with a weapon, sexual assault, or rape
Spread the word. Despite one of the most conservative governments we’ve seen in decades, we are close to a major step forward for the freedoms of our transgender brothers and sisters.
And just because it was released today: