Are you #NotAfraidOfTransWomen?
For those of you who haven’t heard me bitch about C-279 yet, here’s a quick and dirty history. The bill was introduced by NDP MP Randall Garrison, and would, if passed, amend the Canadian Human Rights Act and the Criminal Code to protect people from discrimination based on gender identity in the same way that the Human Rights Act currently protects people from discrimination based on age, race, religion, etc. Following the introduction of the bill, there was a giant and unnecessary shitstorm, with Calgary MP Rob Anders calling it a “bathroom bill” and various fear-mongering groups filing petitions online.
Mob hysteria aside, C-279 passed its third reading in the House of Commons on March 20, 2013, and went on to Senate. (For those interested, the vote was 149 to 137, with both the Prime Minister and our own MP, Keith Ashfield, voting against it.) As anyone who is familiar with the Senate can tell you, the Senate’s job is basically to wallow in glorious bureaucracy and, at the end of the day, rubber stamp whatever piece of paper comes their way.
However, the Senate has taken exception to C-279, and has decided to stop wallowing and start actively opposing bills that will help Canadians. One senator in particular, the Honourable Don Plett, has been vehemently opposed to C-279. Earlier this month, he put his foot down in the Senate and said he absolutely could not support a bill which might make his granddaughter share a bathroom with a “biological male.” Which raises several questions, not the least of which is why does Don Plett suck so fucking much?
Let’s break this down a little for anyone who thinks there are two sides to this debate. First off, trans women are women. Some of them may have been assigned male at birth, but that doesn’t mean they are “biologically male.” If a woman has female biology, then a trans woman has female biology. Secondly, trans folks, and trans women especially, are not predators. In fact, they are far, far, FAR more likely to be the victims of violence than perpetrators. That’s why we need this bill in the first place.
(Also, I know the concept of cisnormativity is probably beyond Plett’s comprehension, but he’s already made himself an unsafe person for his granddaughter to approach if she begins questioning her own gender. So yeah, double fuck you to you, Don.)
Sophia Banks (@sophiaphotos) is a Canadian trans woman who boldly called out Plett’s bullshit on Twitter. She started the #NotAfraidOfTransWomen hashtag which went viral and has, to date, gotten over 7,000 mentions.
It is vital, as cis allies, that we tweet about how we are #NotAfraidOfTransWomen, that we educate ourselves on trans issues and terminology, that we talk to our friends and family about how we can support trans folks, that we talk to our senators and MPs about Bill C-279. Information on contacting Senator is all online — and they’ve got Twitter accounts, and emails, and probably long boring speeches about how youth aren’t engaged. Now is the time to show them that we are, and that this issue is important to us — as students, as voters, as allies, as Canadians, and as human beings.
That sounds like a lot of responsibility, I know. So why is it important for you to speak out? The Senate, and the government of Canada in general, has made it very clear that it does not value trans voices. As cis allies, it is our obligation to speak up. There is no room for neutrality in this debate — if you’re silent, you’ve chosen a side.
The annual Transgender Day of Remembrance is Nov. 20, in memory of the trans folks whose lives were taken, by themselves or others, because of transphobia. While legislation can’t and won’t change society overnight, things like passing Bill C-279 sends a clear message: trans Canadian lives matter to Canada.
But that won’t happen without your help.
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