An Open Letter To Stephen Ira »« There Is No Behind Our Backs

Bill C-279 Read In Parliament Yesterday

Just a quick little post here…

Yesterday afternoon Bill C-279, the one that offers legal protections to trans Canadians from discrimination on the basis of gender identity and gender expression, was debated in (first?) reading in the House of Commons.

Here’s a little bit of video:

Unfortunately, it wasn’t all good stuff. Conservative MPs were happy to trot out ignorant and bigoted fear-mongering, such as the dreaded “bathroom predator” myth, as well as making some kind of reference to pedophiles using these protections to stalk YOUR CHILDREN. -scare chord-

I’m not sure whether or not any NDP MPs remembered to make the point that nothing like that has ever actually happened. I was reading this interesting blog post a couple days ago (which I’ll link on Sunday) that mentioned an ongoing challenge to rad-fem transphobes, right-wingers, HBSers and other bigots to name just ten incidents of anyone ever taking advantage of bathrooms being opened to trans people to commit sexual assault. None of these groups have ever been able to present so much as ONE such incident. One ultra-Conservative group responded with the claim that four rapes occurred involving men disguised as trans women after a bill had been passed in a certain US municipality allowing trans people access to appropriate gender-specific facilities, but when the police force of that municipality were contacted about this claim, they reported that no such incidents had actually taken place. In the absence of evidence for their doomsday scenarios, it appears the bathroom fear-mongers are happy to turn to outright lies.

Anyway, here’s some info on what you can do to help…

The coming two weeks are “constituency weeks” in which the MPs will leave Ottawa and return to their ridings. This means you’ll have a chance to DIRECTLY contact and, ideally, meet with your MPs to discuss the bill. It’s very important and meaningful to do this in all ridings, and I strongly discourage anyone from getting into a “no point in my case” attitude, but it’s especially important for those of you who have Conservative MPs with a socially-progressive history who may be willing to stray from the party-line on this.

Another extremely helpful thing you can do is, beyond contacting your MP, contact your local media. Newspapers, TV stations, radio stations, etc. Ask why they’re not covering this. Press them. Bring up Talackova if you have too. Ask why they didn’t consider this angle while covering her story. I firmly believe the best and only chance this bill has is awareness. Canadians need to know it’s going on, and the Tories need to know Canadians know it’s going on. THAT’S what will make them fear the consequences of voting against it, and perhaps appreciate the potential positive consequences of voting in its favour.

Thank you for all the work you’ve all been doing. But we cannot, and must not, stop now.

Comments

  1. Anders says

    Even if there were a few cases of bathroom predators there’s a legal maxim called abusus non tollit usum. “Abuse does not negate use”, i.e., the fact that a right can be abused does not mean that the right can be taken away.

    • Rasmus says

      There’s a petition that’s open to signatures from all countries. (I think foreign signatures are completely fair considering that Canada and Canadians in general, like other western nations, consider human rights to be universal.)

      If you’re someone who’s not Canadian you can sign the petition and then tell any and all of your Canadian friends to write to their representatives.

      • Rasmus says

        Whoops… I should probably add that the reason I’m qualifying that statement with “western nations” is that I’m too ignorant about attitudes towards human rights outside of the western world to say anything about them.

        • Rasmus says

          Well, I don’t think there is very much that we non-Canadians can do directly. Canadians themselves are much better suited than we to put pressure on their politicians.

          It’s a shame that Canadian mainstream media is apparently ignoring the issue, because the mainstream media is still by far the most effective way to put pressure on politicians. If someone knows a way to get them to consider it newsworthy, now would be the time to do that.

      • says

        Oh, I signed the petition already, and circulated it on Facebook. I’m pretty sure my small number of Canadian friends are all aware of it now (though I don’t know how many have signed). But I’m a Brit who currently lives in the US, and have no particular connections to Canada other than knowing a few Canadians.

    • Anders says

      Contact your ambassador and make sure he knows that this issue is known abroad. Say that you’ll think twice about buying Canadian products until all Canadian citizens have equal protection under the law. Bonus points if it is actually true. :)

  2. Anders says

    Tangentially related – how about making a hashtag or a website where all trans rights related petitions can be gathered?

      • Anders says

        Yes, but I wanted a place specifically for petitions, where they wouldn’t be drowned in the general hubbub.

        • Rasmus says

          #transrights gets about a handful of tweets a day on average. You could always come up with a more obscure tag later if it gets too popular.

  3. Happiestsadist says

    I was actually assaulted in a bathroom once by a dude. He was wearing a tshirt and jeans, and IDed as a dude. MY GOD, it’s like the little figures on the doors don’t emit magical “girls in dresses” force fields!

    Seriously, I don’t get the bathroom panic bullshit.

    • Anders says

      Women are in a small, closed area and perform functions most people see as private. And women have been taught from childhood that they are in danger of being raped and that, if they are raped, it’s probably more than a little their own fault. Combine that with a general distaste for the odd and unusual and you have the recipe for a panic.

      This is an urban legend, just like “welcome to the AIDS club” or the stolen kidney. As such, it will be difficult to eradicate or at least transform into something more equal-opportunities fear. I fear the only thing we can do is keep combatting it wherever and whenever it is brought up.

      • Happiestsadist says

        I get that, dude. I was raised a girl and I’ve been raped repeatedly, before being sexually assaulted in a fucking bathroom. I’m more just disgusted at the idea that there’s this magical bigoted thinking that if you keep women out of the bathroom, somehow dudes with bad intent magically are kept out.

        • Anders says

          Oh, fuck. I’m so sorry. I didn’t mean to sound condescending or anything. I’m… speechless right now. Just, I’m sorry for all you’ve been through. It shouldn’t happen to anyone.

          • Happiestsadist says

            I realized after I typed my response that I was somewhat pointier than necessary there. You just answered my rhetorical question. I get kind of ragey at the whole “bathroom panic” thing, more than I used to, after that one incident. It wasn’t “that bad” in comparison to the rapes (a different guy was involved), but it was horrifying, and trans women getting to pee are being denied that simple right over a fear that has never actually been justified while that dude didn’t even get a slap on the wrist. And another friend of mine got bashed for going to the bathroom when he began his transition (same city, different bathroom).

            Thanks.

  4. anthonyallen says

    It’s very important and meaningful to do this in all ridings, and I strongly discourage anyone from getting into a “no point in my case” attitude

    My MP is the Prime Minister. Still think there is a point?

    More seriously, though, I don’t think I could bring myself to do something like that.

    • anthonyallen says

      Crap! I just read what I wrote. :(

      I meant that in the “I get fearful, anxious and tend to babble incoherently when trying to speak to someone in authority” sense, and not in the “I disagree with you” sense.

      Sorry.

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