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.

-Shiv

Bill C-16 passes second reading

Bill C-16 hit Parliament for the second time and was passed 248-40, now proceeding along to the next step of Canadian law resolution. All 40 votes against were from the Conservative party.

A bill meant to enshrine the rights of transgender people by adding gender identity and expression to human rights and hate crime laws is heading to the justice committee.

The House of Commons voted by a margin of 248 to 40 to pass the legislation, known as Bill C-16, at second reading.

Justice Minister Jody Wilson-Raybould and New Democrat MP Nathan Cullen – political rivals who have found common ground on the issue of trans rights – hugged each other on the floor of the House after the vote.

The legislation would, if passed, make it illegal under the Canadian Human Rights Act to deny someone a job – or otherwise discriminate against them in the workplace – on the basis of they gender they identify with or outwardly express.

It would also amend the Criminal Code so that gender identity and expression would be included in hate speech laws.

The bill will ultimately have to get through the Senate, where an earlier private member’s bill put forward by NDP MP Randall Garrison was gutted and died when the 2015 election was called.

While I am glad that we may finally have some legal recourse when we are discriminated against, it is still worth noting that it is mostly accessible to those trans people who already had some privileges in other ways. We still have an ongoing crisis for health, housing, and violent crime especially among trans women of colour, and I stress that this is meant to be the first–not the last–step to empower trans folk.

Assuming the Senate doesn’t gut it, again.

-Shiv

Sizable minority of Canadians oppose Bill C-16

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MetroNews collected not only some opinions on Bill C-16 and the concept of extending explicit protections to trans Canadians, but also the demographic data of the respondents. So who is actually against and in favour of the Bill?:

The poll found most Canadians to be in favour of the provisions included in the proposed legislation.

Three in four Canadians (74 per cent) agree with a provision in Bill C-16 that would make it illegal to discriminate on the basis of gender identity and gender expression, and 71 per cent are in favour of updating criminal laws to make it a hate crime when someone is targeted because of their gender identity and gender expression.

In addition, two thirds of Canadians (65 per cent) agree with extending hate speech laws to include the terms gender identity and gender expression.

So why is Metro more optimistic about the findings than I am? Simple: It all falls apart once you actually apply  those protections.

A majority of Canadians (55 per cent) think transgender Canadians should be allowed to use the public bathroom of their choice, while one third (32 per cent) believe their public bathroom use should be based exclusively on biological sex.

There’s a discrepancy here–26% of respondents were not in favour of adding explicit protections to trans Canadians, so if the respondents actually knew what the fuck they were talking about, we would expect close to the same amount opposing the use of appropriate facilities for trans folk. Yet it jumps up to 32% when you actually frame the issue as being about bathrooms. On the inverse, 74% of respondents agreed it was wrong to discriminate against trans folk, but you ask them about washrooms and the portion of supporters sinks to 55%. The bathroom question doesn’t add up to 100% because the rest answered in one of the ambivalent categories.

Now are there any differences by demographic response?

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Transphobic opposition to Bill C-16 suspiciously similar to Republicans

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Content Notice: Everything that makes you sick about reading HB2 is present in one pundit discussed here.

We get a sense of deja vu when querying Canadian Conservative pundits on Bill C-16, which proposes to add gender identity & expression to the list of protected entities in the Human Rights Act, as well as to the targets of hate crime in the Criminal Code. In a debate on Bill C-16 hosted on CTV, we can see a range of arguments represented in favour and against the bill, including someone who might as well be reading from Governer McCrory’s public statements on HB2: Charles McVety. A transcript of McVety’s garbage opinion below. Ready your bingo cards:

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Bill C-16 proposes to add “explicit protections” to trans Canadians

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We saw in a previous post that the Canadian Liberal government announced its intentions to add gender identity & expression to the list of protected entities in the Human Rights Act, as well as to the possible targets of hate crime in the Criminal Code.

Today the government announces Bill C-16:

This enactment amends the Canadian Human Rights Act to add gender identity and gender expression to the list of prohibited grounds of discrimination.
Le texte modifie la Loi canadienne sur les droits de la personne afin d’ajouter l’identité de genre et l’expression de genre à la liste des motifs de distinction illicite.
The enactment also amends the Criminal Code to extend the protection against hate propaganda set out in that Act to any section of the public that is distinguished by gender identity or expression and to clearly set out that evidence that an offence was motivated by bias, prejudice or hate based on gender identity or expression constitutes an aggravating circumstance that a court must take into consideration when it imposes a sentence.
Il modifie également le Code criminel afin d’étendre la protection contre la propagande haineuse prévue par cette loi à toute section du public qui se différencie des autres par l’identité ou l’expression de genre et de clairement prévoir que les éléments de preuve établissant qu’une infraction est motivée par des préjugés ou de la haine fondés sur l’identité ou l’expression de genre constituent une circonstance aggravante que le tribunal doit prendre en compte lorsqu’il détermine la peine à infliger.

There is also a less legal and more accessible explanation of Bill C-16, provided on the government website:

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Bathroom Bill Senator Don Plett back at it again

Don Plett is the genius behind the previous Canadian government’s attempt to legislate on trans rights–he proposed the amendment to Bill C-279, which specifically excluded public accommodations and housing protections. An otherwise perfectly good bill was gutted thanks to him, leaving trans women stranded in a veritable minefield yet again.

So, of course, we ought not to be surprised when Plett steps up to the plate to antagonize the 4th? attempt at codifying trans human rights. Check out his stunningly familiar rhetoric below:

Colleagues, last week Bill C-16, gender identity and gender expression, passed third reading in the other place without a recorded vote. This came on the heels of the Justice Committee refusing to hear from witnesses on this legislation. That’s right, colleagues, no public hearings.

Well golly gee, public opposition to trans rights is pretty fuckin’ high when you mention public accommodations, so yeah, no public debate. Probably because we’ve all heard the trans rapist trope a few too many times at this point? What new information could possibly be presented against us that we haven’t already heard?

We should be so confident in the legislation that we bring forward, and certainly in the legislation we pass, that we are willing to have it withstand a thorough and rigorous vetting process.

That’s a strange euphemism for your “fix” last time, Plett. Rigorous vetting process, you mean like the part where trans women are many times more likely to be a victim of violent crime than cis women are? Yet you trotted out tired arguments about women’s safety when you torpedoed the last bill. Is that the kind of thoroughness we can expect?

Political correctness authoritarians

Oh for fuck sake. This was in my government? We have a fucking sheep bleating about “political correctness” in government?! 

have narrowed the scope of acceptable thought and discourse in academia and, by extension, the general public.

YES, YOU ASSHOLE. TRANSPHOBIA IS NOT A RATIONAL RESPONSE.

However, we as legislators and public policy-makers should not be afraid of the difficult conversations.

Aww, Plett’s scared. Poor widdle muffin. Good thing you aren’t living in the constant fear of literal assault every time you pee, you might just melt like the snowflake you are.

Legislation that has serious implications on freedom of speech — and, for the first time in Canadian law, compelled speech — cannot be passed so flippantly without thorough public discourse, debate and consideration.

What? Where the fuck is this even coming from? The boundaries on Bill C-16 are clear! They state which sections of the Criminal Code are being amended: 1) Advocacy for genocide; 2) Public incitement of hatred. YOU’RE A GOD DAMN SENATOR YOU SHOULD KNOW THIS.

As University of Toronto Professor Jordan Peterson said recently on this issue

Oh fuck off already

Once we decide that we will not engage in manipulation of facts, regardless of the results, if it is based on telling the truth, that is always the best possible outcome.

Manipulation of facts, like this complete fucking fiction that Bill C-16 dictates pronoun use?

Are you terminally incapable of self-awareness??

I challenge my colleagues not to be silenced by the baseless character assassination, not to be silenced by those who want to throw out labels of bigotry and new phobias dreamt up every other week in social science departments in order to silence dissent.

OH MY GOD YOUR DISSENT IS NOT SILENT JESUS CHRIST MY BLOOD PRESSURE WOULD BE GREAT IF IT WERE

Those who find this legislation to have some merit but are afraid to speak in its favour because they find the topic “difficult,” and those who behind closed doors are vehemently opposed to this legislation but are not willing to speak to it publicly, please, by all means, let your voices be heard.

Yes, let those gullible idiots undemocratically appointed to torpedo democratic legislation make their ignorance clear at the expense of trans folk who will be condemned to live in between the lines until you fucking keel over and die already.

We are the chamber of sober second thought. We are legislators and policy-makers. It is our duty to look at fact, at science and at truth. A difficult and controversial topic with profound consequences should not generate less debate; it should generate more debate.

Great! Then I’ll see you when you sign the law! Unless this call for science is what you mean when you refer to Peterson as your “expert.” Is god damn Paul McHugh going to make an appearance? What is this “science” that makes you hesitate? Alice Dreger’s? Please spare me the fucking quackery. I’ll pop a god damn artery.

I want to ensure all of the outraged individuals who have emailed and called our office that the Senate will do a better job. When the House of Commons puts its electoral viability ahead of difficult conversations about policy, it has failed. Colleagues, let’s not fall into the same trap. Let’s have the difficult conversations. Let’s do our jobs. We owe it to Canadians.

Oh yes, I look forward to being publicly defamed as a rapist, again, during the “difficult conversation” you intend to start.

-Shiv

I henceforth declare Jordan Peterson beyond parody

Bill C-16 came and passed, and now that Jordan Peterson has no steam for his conspiratorial ramblings about trans people, he’s taken a totally and completely unexpected turn to advocating for domestic violence.

University of Toronto professor Jordan Peterson went on a “little tirade” about “female insanity” and what he thinks is “undermining the masculine power of the culture” in a “fatal” way.

Peterson is a controversial U of T psychologist who has been making headlines for the last year over his refusal to recognize students’ use of gender-neutral pronouns.

Since then, Peterson has become a cult figure in corners of Canada’s conservative movement and the online alt-right, making an appearance at last year’s Manning Centre conference in Ottawa where he celebrated disgraced Breitbart columnist Milo Yiannopoulous, as well as crowdsourcing funds with the help of Rebel Media’s Ezra Levant, testifying at a Senate committee on human rights legislation and even inspiring policies adopted by Conservative leader Andrew Scheer.

A pedophile apologist, a thrice-libelous leaking ass-pimple, and a reboot of Harper’s software in marginally younger hardware. What unbiased company he keeps.

We’re going to disgest Peterson in brief nuggets here:

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It’s official, after much wailing and gnashing of teeth…

…my existence has now been federally recognized in Canada. Bill C-16 just passed in the Senate, and is off for Royal Assent.

OTTAWA, June 15, 2017 /CNW/ – The Honourable Jody Wilson-Raybould, Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada, has issued the following statement:

“Our Government is very pleased that Bill C-16 was passed by the Senate today, bringing us one step closer to strengthening laws against discrimination, hate propaganda, and hate crime based on gender identity and gender expression.

“In Canada we celebrate inclusion and diversity, and all Canadians should feel safe to be themselves. Trans and gender diverse persons must be granted equal status in Canadian society, and this Bill makes that status explicit in Canadian law.

“The purpose of this legislation is to ensure that everyone can live according to their gender identity and express their gender as they choose. It will protect people from discrimination, hate propaganda and hate crimes. Once it receives Royal Assent, the legislation will add the grounds of gender identity and gender expression to the Canadian Human Rights Act and the Criminal Code. Gender identity and gender expression would become prohibited grounds of discrimination under the Canadian Human Rights Act, and the updates to the Criminal Code would protect trans and gender diverse Canadians who are targeted because of their gender identity or expression from hate propaganda. These changes would also require a court to treat the commission of an offence that is motivated by hate based on gender identity or expression as an aggravating factor for sentencing purposes.

“I would like to acknowledge the courage and the leadership of the trans community and their decades of effort to achieve equality. Their dedication, resilience and tireless advocacy for equal rights inspire me.

“Finally, I would like to thank Members of Parliament and the Senate for supporting this important piece of legislation. Diversity is our strength. I am proud of the steps we are taking to ensure that all Canadians are treated equally.”

I agree. Diversity is our strength. After all, Bill C-16 has probably been the only law on the books in which the religious right, trans-exclusionary radical feminists, the alt-right, and Joe Everyman all gathered under the same banner–the Sign of the Asshole–to righteously stick it to those unemployed, underemployed icky trans people who somehow simultaneously control the entire healthcare industry and all of academia while needing to access homeless and crisis shelters at the same time.

-Shiv

 

Updated comments policy

Howdy folks.

In the interest of fairness I decided to spruce up my comments policy to be a bit more detailed and explicit. Regulars have more or less already been following these conditions anyways, but I also decided to explicitly document the Points Refuted a Thousand Times. This is to help make more available the myth-busting information, and also to point out that I’m under no obligation to repeat myself when my previous work stands, a demand which has occasionally cropped up in the filtered comments.

Everything below is listed here.


The first comment you post on Against the Grain is automatically sent into moderation. This is to bring your commentary to my attention. There are a number of things I have little patience for on this blag, detailed below, and if you run afoul of them your comment may be edited, filtered out, or your account banned altogether. Your participation is contingent on the following:

1. Stay on topic

If your first instinct is to change the subject, you’ll likely be called on it. If I start a conversation about the angles Jesse Singal employs in his trans-antagonistic journalism, braying on about this obscure murder committed 30 years ago by a trans woman is not relevant.

2. Make disagreements about the argument

Attack the argument. Question its premises, or question the logical construction. I am not generally fond of attacking the arguer as opposed to the argument. On a related note…

3. Definitely no hate speech

Ad hominems usually net you warnings, unless you employ language that singles out a person’s immutable characteristics as inherently inferior or undesirable, in which case I toss you out. This includes but is not limited to language demeaning gender identity, sexual orientation, ethnicity, ability, sex, etc.

4. No Points Refuted a Thousand Times

My material on trans issues is occasionally repetitive because the opponents to trans rights offer repetitive discourse. If something was wrong six months ago, it remains wrong today unless new information has been produced. So no, I am not going to tailor-suit a refutation to something that has already been shown to be bunk nonsense, and reciting these points uncritically will not impress me.

Some PRATTs relevant to this blog include:

Yes, this tedious, fact-free nonsense tends to repeat itself.

Note that bringing up a PRATT doesn’t necessarily disqualify you from the comments, if and only if you can introduce new information that wasn’t discussed the first time.

5. Breaking these rules on other blogs on the network will also get you banned.

I regularly read the works of my colleagues, so even if you aren’t accountable to my conditions on their blog, you’re still subject to them when you come to mine. A history of violating the above conditions elsewhere will generally burn any goodwill I might otherwise assume when you pop up in moderation.

-Shiv