A brief history of Bill C-16

On June 15th, 2017, the Senate finally voted on Bill C-16 after nine months of stalling. It passed, overwhelmingly, and was given the Royal Rubber Stamp shortly afterwards, marking the first time gender identity would be explicitly recognized in federal Canadian law. With that recognition comes restitution for transgender people–not just Canadians, since our Charter of Rights and Freedoms (theoretically) applies to anyone on Canadian soil–who interact with any institution federally regulated. One particularly potent consequence: Trans folk immigrating just received a (again, theoretical) huge upgrade in terms of their rights.

Even with this narrow demographic of who actually benefits from the law, its opposition frequently traded in outright lies, employing strategies that nonetheless demonized trans people as a whole. Mercedes Allen reviews it here:

Although I’ll be remarking on the passing of Bill C-16 elsewhere, I wanted to post Bill Siksay’s closing speech from February 7, 2011, back when the bill was in its third incarnation (of five), Bill C-389.  To me, it’s a profound moment to look back on, and realize just how far we’ve come.

It took 12 years to pass this bill.  For the first six, it was completely ignored, as was the trans* rights movement. Shortly after this speech, the bill did pass at Third Reading, and the effort finally was taken seriously… but was then very hard fought.  This speech was the moment (if there was any single one) that things changed.

I hope that Mr. Siksay’s efforts are remembered now.  Trans* people have usually been told to wait their turn, that legislation is incremental, that we should work for gay rights, and then the LGBTQ movement would come back for us.  This was a rare exception in which someone actually did come back.

Although the efforts of Randall Garrison, Jody Wilson-Raybould, and Grant Mitchell deserve much recognition, it would be very wrong to forget the person who started it all.

You can follow more history here.