Rosie DiManno: Anti-trans garbage chute

I wish I got paid as much as anti-trans pundits to discredit them as they get paid to invent shit to get outraged over. Sadly it seems Canada’s corporate media has identified that anti-trans sentiment sells better, and those of us who insist on high standards of evidence are relegated to “alternative media.”

The next hit piece to grace my feed is Rosie DiManno’s fabulously victim blaming article, “End of binary gender proves to be a passport confusion.” Insert usual disclaimer for all your predictable anti-trans codswallop.

Earlier this month, Tracy Ayre took her 16-year-old son to renew his passport at the Toronto office. She brought with her his birth certificate, health card with photo, student ID card, bank statement, expired passport and her obviously boy teenager.

I have to interrupt this story already as there is an important detail here. “She brought with her his birth certificate.” According to Service Ontario, the administration responsible for government ID, the birth certificate contains: (emphasis mine)

A short form birth certificate includes basic information and can be used as identification. It includes this information:

  • last name
  • given name(s)
  • date of birth
  • certificate number
  • birthplace
  • sex
  • date of registration
  • registration number, and
  • date issued

Keep that detail in the foreground of your mind.*

Back to our intrepid parent, as retold by DiManno:

Earlier this month, Tracy Ayre took her 16-year-old son to renew his passport at the Toronto office. She brought with her his birth certificate, health card with photo, student ID card, bank statement, expired passport and her obviously boy teenager.

Nope, not good enough.

“We need something that says he’s a male,” Ayre was told.

Eyeball proof was insufficient. As a bureaucracy, documented proof was required. Except, being a bureaucracy that crawls on its red-tape belly, one level of government — federal, which issues passports — is out of socio-cultural sync with another level of government, that being Ontario.

Now wait just a minute. The piece opens with the claim, apparently from Ayre, that they brought the son’s birth certificate. As Service Ontario states the birth certificate has the child’s “sex,” how is it that they were unable to produce no proof of sex?

This incredibly crucial detail could mean the difference between discovering a scoop about an incompetent clerk, or… if you’re DiManno, you could leap straight over it to launch into an anti-trans diatribe!

As of this past June, sex designation is not displayed on newly issued Ontario health cards, which is fine and progressive and inclusive in a suddenly assertive non-binary world, although that fraction of the population which doesn’t identify as either male or female is minuscule — estimated at 0.3 to 0.4 per cent.

Ottawa, operating in a different orbit, has yet to synchronize on federal documents such as passports.

Yep, let’s just pretend there isn’t a hole in Ayre’s story right away. Nothing to see here folks. What’s that humming? It sounds like a smoke machine. Never mind, we got some potshots to take at Ontario’s gay Premier! *pew pew*

The transgender community is difficult to quantify. Numbers are merely a qualified guess from academics in the demographics field because only a handful of countries include the gender-unspecified option in the census collection data. Germany became the first European country to recognize a “third gender” on birth certificates for “intersex infants” — those showing both male and female characteristics, with parents allowed to mark an X for “undetermined,” and the offspring deciding at a later date. New Zealand brought in the new gender category “unspecified” for passports in 2012, Australia a year earlier.

Okay, so DiManno hasn’t the foggiest idea what gender variance actually is, but apparently that’s not going to stop the editor of the Toronto Star from publishing her wankfest for cash muneh.

The statement “The transgender community is difficult to quantify” generally holds true for people who are neither knowledgeable on survey design nor queer. Despite the fact that plenty of studies have managed to pull their collective heads out of their collective asses and produced a reasonably robust methodology, ignorant twits like DiManno can just say “this shit is hard *whine*” and the unknowing public will lap it up. Journalistic responsibility at its finest.

“Numbers are merely a qualified guess from academics in the demographics field because only a handful of countries include the gender-unspecified option in the census collection data.”

Man. I can’t even.

“Numbers are merely a qualified guess” has to be up there with “THE SUN IS HOT” in terms of asininity. Holy shit, DiManno. Fucking all census data is a “qualified guess” unless you can literally corner every individual in a target population and force them at gun point to fill out your form. If DiManno means to suggest no census is functional without a 100% response rate, I look forward to her many scathing criticisms of the much-beloved national census which only queries 60% of households.

Then there’s the second half, that “unspecified” is how you determine gender variant respondents. DiManno then flies off the rails altogether and starts talking about intersex folk. DiManno doesn’t seem to realize that intersex development and gender variance are distinct concepts**, but hey, I bet she got a few dolla dolla bills to write this tripe.

India saw the light in 2009 for a reported five to six million transgender citizens with its voter forms. That year, the Supreme Court in Pakistan — a rigidly Islamic society — ordered the government to issue national ID cards with a third gender option, a move triggered by local police robbing and raping a number of hijra (transgender) dancers. Nepal’s believed to have become the world’s first country with a third gender on census forms (2007), leading the way to also introducing it on passports.

Here I thought we were talking about intersex, and now we’ve flipflopped back to the South Asian concept of hijra, or third gender.

Are we talking about intersex infants or trans folk? I’m sure this conflation will be justified any second now.

Which leaves, oh, about 190 nations on the planet which might not recognize third-gender or unspecified on a travel document, potentially refusing entry.

Yeah, that’s pretty shitty, but to me that sounds like an indictment of administrating human developmental biology as a binary when it simply doesn’t behave as a binary 100% of the time. Somehow I doubt this is meant to be sympathetic, given that DiManno has ineffectually flailed this entire article. I honestly don’t know what the fuck this is supposed to be about and we’re *counts* eight paragraphs in? Jesus Fucking Christ how do assholes like you get paid for this?

Last spring Canada’s reinstated mandatory long-form census still asked Canadians to identify as either male or female, ignoring the — let’s round it off at 100,000 — individuals who don’t fit the sexual binary mould. Statistics Canada has indicated it will hold public consultation on how to formulate the gender question for its next national census, scheduled for 2021.

Fuck me sideways, you flip-flop faster than Trump does.

Here and now, that didn’t help Ayre. Having taken a day off work for the purpose and schlepped her kid to the passport office, she was directed to another government hive.

“I had to go to Service Ontario to get a receipt that says my son is MALE!,” Ayre wrote in an email (which got no response yet) to the office of Premier Kathleen Wynne, to which no response has yet been received. “That’s because of YOU removing gender on the health card I needed from the same place YOU had them remove it from! (It) didn’t matter that he was with me and clearly 1000% all boy, we needed to leave, after taking time off work, time off school, to go stand in another line to get this . . . Can you even imagine what my son thought as to having to prove he’s male?”

Again, I have to ask Ayre: What happened to your son’s birth certificate? According to DiManno, you had it, so you’ve really got me at a loss as to what your healthcare card had anything to do with the clerk’s refusal to renew his passport. I’m sure this crucial detail will be clarified any second now by our knowledgeable hostess.


Can you even imagine what my son thought as to having to prove he’s male?


I’m going to gently point out that yes, transsexuals know exactly what it’s like to be asked to prove our gender and that no, asking us this question seriously is not advisable.***

What the teen thought he later expressed to his grandmother: “I guess I have to show I don’t have a vagina.”

Well, that’s not in fact proof of anything. Genitalia as affixed at birth is evidence of nothing when gender is self-determined later on.

See, it’s not just the washroom designation for transgender people which has vexed various municipal governments, ridiculously complicating an issue that should be easily solved if only common courtesy prevailed. It’s the Rube Goldberg apparatus of institutions, the snarl of governments jumping in before figuring out a standardized approach, that has gummed the works.

Okay, a vaguely cogent statement we can agree on: Imperfect administrative functions which reduce people to categories tend to break when we finally admit things are more complex than that. (Again, I am dubious as to what DiManno’s “common courtesy” entails given her lack of clarity in these areas).

“They don’t even put these offices in the same building,” Ayre complained in an interview with the Star. “So you’re wasting all this time going back and forth, taking days off work, paying for parking. I told the passport people, ‘look at my son, this is a boy.’ It didn’t matter.”

I’d like a refund for all my wasted days running around trying to get my incongruent ID updated, too.

Ayre adds: “What about senior citizens who may need to get a new health card and it doesn’t say gender and they might want to renew their passports? Why make it so difficult?”

I agree Ayre. Why make it so difficult? Never mind the small detail that your question ought to be directed at the federal government and not Ontario’s provincial government, why?

DiManno gives us the answer:

Uh, because politicians are utterly transfixed in the righteousness of their focus?

Stunning. It couldn’t be that this obsession with people’s gender in areas of administration that frankly don’t need to know it could be causing the problem. It’s the politician’s fault!

When the Star called the provincial Ministry of Government and Consumer Services to enquire about this particular piece of beadledom, Ayre’s frustrations with the system were confirmed.

“ServiceOntario has been working closely with the federal government to address this situation,” spokesperson Stephen Puddister responded in an email. “As a temporary solution, the federal government has agreed to accept the receipt from new health cards along with the health card itself as acceptable identification. ServiceOntario staff are advising customers to keep the receipt so that they can use it to apply for a passport.”

Right. So that means getting a ServiceOntario receipt which specifies gender — male or female, exclusively — because gender has been removed as a matter of policy from the very same health cards that the province now issues?

“Yes on that.”

And that’s the article. The whole thing. I don’t know what the actual fuck DiManno means to do in this piece.

Read more about: Kathleen Wynne

Ah. There it is.

I’ve attached an abridged version:

Something something *fap fap fap fap fap* something Wynne *fap fap fap* ess jay double-yoos *fap fap*




*I usually prefer to refer to this as the “sex assigned at birth,” which is a whole ‘nother post.

**Although not necessarily exclusive concepts, the existing evidence does not support that being intersex implies gender variance or that being gender variant implies intersex development. An intersex person can transition away from their assigned sex just as a non-intersex person can but no causal link has been effectively established. Thus it is still salient to make a distinction and not veer back and forth between the two at breakneck, whiplash-inducing speeds.

***I may be understating.


  1. anat says

    So how about ‘we’ think hard and seriously about which documents (if any) should have sex and/or gender information on them, what purpose the information serves, and if it turns out to actually serve a good purpose – how to obtain the information?

    Obviously in times that ideas about a concept are being re-examined there are going to be inconsistent rules and people will have trouble, especially people from under-privileged groups. Not surprising, and we need ways to get everyone suitable documentation. We might end up simplifying things by doing away with information that upon examination is found to be not particularly helpful.

  2. Greta Samsa says

    *I usually prefer to refer to this as the “sex assigned at birth,” which is a whole ‘nother post.

    Indeed it is, and a post that’s already been made, if I remember (how to link to it) correctly.

    I’d prefer some differing terminology, since some people have bottom surgery and their sex is no longer their sex assigned at birth. It’d also be ineffective for intersex people, so I suppose they could have a set of checkboxes, “Has : ☐”.
    This would also mean that women would no longer have an “M” marked under sex on their ID, even if it was technically correct.

    At the same time, I agree with anat that having such things on forms is probably useless. They’ve already know the person’s gender, and have a photograph, why should they need sex marked?

  3. Greta Samsa says

    I forgot the when I used angle brackets; it was meant to read “Has [sex characteristic]: ☐”.