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

 

Transmisogyny is still misogyny

I think most feminists would do a double-take if they had received the endorsement of evangelicals, but not Meghan Murphy. Undeterred by the fact that the Conservatives have selected her to share the limelight alongside evangelical pastor Paul Dirks, Murphy has the privilege of taking her transmisogyny to a national stage as a “witness” for the Senate’s third reading of Bill C-16.

The sad part is that there are legitimate critiques of Bill C-16. Advocates pointed out (and I’ll admit I was a bit late to the party on this one) that trans women are already disproportionately targeted by police and are therefore more likely to be represented in prison–the same prisons that would house hate crime offenders for longer periods of time thanks to Bill C-16’s hate crime provisions. But that’s not the argument Conservatives or Murphy are making.

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Silver-lining-in-genocide Senator Lynn Beyak strikes again

Apparently not satisfied with the concentration of garbage water that is her existence, Lynn Beyak decided to one-up her prior remarks about calling on the survivors of colonial genocide to seek out the silver lining from their circumstances, by insisting the LGBT Community wouldn’t have to suffer discrimination if only we stuffed ourselves back in the closet.

During a debate over a trans human rights law.

Last week, Beyak, during a debate on C-16, the transgender rights bill, went on a bizarre rant bemoaning that the radicals of the gay movement expect “all of Canada to be their closet.”

I–what? What? I can’t.

She continued to pine for a happier time when folks like her simply didn’t have to acknowledge the uncomfortable truth that gay people exist because they weren’t flaunting their homosexuality in her face.

“By living in quiet dignity, they have never had to face any kind of discrimination or uncomfortable feelings,” she said, without a hint of irony. “I would assert that is how the vast majority of the LGBT community feels.”

“Quiet dignity.” That’s some real good Christian doublespeak you’ve got going there.

Fuck me. When did we start importing neanderthals from Texas? Get this lady all the chairs so she can sit the fuck down.

-Shiv

When Transphobia Trumps Statistics

As a transgender Canadian, I’ve been hawkishly poring over the many debates on Bill C-16, a human rights bill that would add “public incitements of violence,” “willful promotion of hatred,” and “advocacy for genocide” as activities outside of “acceptable speech” concerning gender identity and expression. It would also add bias against a victim’s gender identity or expression as an aggravating circumstance for criminal sentencing. Any business under federal jurisdiction — including the postal service, telecommunications, banks, and airlines — that discriminates against an employee or hiree on the basis of their gender identity and expression would be penalized.

In short, Bill C-16 a good step for trans equality in Canada, strengthening our legal protections. And the data shows they’re much needed.

In 2011, the National Task Force for Transgender Equality published one of the most comprehensive reviews of discrimination against trans folk that finally paints our picture in detail. A brief snapshot: 90% of us experienced workplace harassment or discrimination. 26% of us lost our jobs and careers when we came out. 19% of us have been homeless, and another 29% have been turned away at homeless shelters specifically because of our identity. 19% of us had been refused service in health care, and 57% of us experienced some kind of significant family rejection. Those statistics were based on the responses from trans people of every race; it should be noted that every single outcome is worse if you’re also black and trans.

These are the facts, and though they are nothing new for trans people, they demonstrate that Bill C-16 is necessary to explicitly protect Canadian trans people who have largely been relegated to patchwork federal case law and legal gray areas until very recently.

When the results from the National Transgender Discrimination Survey (NTDS) were released, I naively hoped these statistics would offer a chance for those who didn’t know them to get a big-picture view of some of our crises, amd that the NTDS would enter the conversation on public policy.

After all, legislators are passing policy for everyone, so they’d want the full picture, right?

Apparently not. The necessity of a human rights bill like C-16 ought to be self-evident given the outcomes of the trans community, simply because of the appalling frequency and degree of discrimination that trans Canadians continue to face — but you do need to be aware of that fact first for it to be obvious. The law has been passed in Parliament but awaits further voting in the Senate, and during these debates, the data is seldom, if ever, mentioned.

Read more on The Establishment.

All the little power games

Content notice: Trans-antagonism.

It was in December 2015 when Alberta passed Bill 7, a law that added gender identity and expression to the protected classes under the provincial criminal code. For the most part the law passed with little more than the usual humming and hawing from radio talk show hosts. Perhaps it was the weather that discouraged protesting, but it wasn’t until summer 2016, around the same time that Bill C-16 was finally proposed (a similar law, but federally), that I witnessed in person the sorts of power games that cisgender opponents to trans rights would engage in.

Trans Equality Society of Alberta (TESA) organized a rally to express support for the legislation. Scheduled after the rally was the reactionary response. But the rally in favour of trans rights, upon its conclusion, asked if any of its members would stay to counter-protest the anti-rights rally.

So we did.

Physical violence was thankfully avoided, but that doesn’t mean the cisgender anti-trans rights protesters didn’t have their little power games to put us on the back foot.

If you’re trans and you catch the attention of the a particularly unhinged trans-antagonist, your doxxing doesn’t stop merely at the location of your legal identity–they always, always dig up your prior name (aka birth name or dead name) and insist on using it to refer to you, or at the very least implying you’re suspect by publishing it alongside your legal name. And if you’re a public figure, it’s usually not difficult to locate your previous name because all legal name changes might be published where you live.

So now, in order to meet the demands of the anti-rights camp and have a, quote unquote, “civil” conversation, you have to engage whilst being called the wrong name, the wrong pronoun, and the wrong titles.

I kid you not–the woman leading the trans counter-protest was referred to as “Sir” the entire time. Their twisted idea of respect was itself a cheap tactic, a kidney shot. So we either proceed to ignore this behaviour in order to talk about the logistics of trans rights and how literally zero cis men have been excused from criminal behaviour because they were cross dressing when they did it; or, instead of refuting these myths and misconceptions, we spend the entire time trying to get our opponents to stop fucking calling us by a name that isn’t ours.

The excuses for this tactic are flimsy. Trans-antagonists don’t go around calling every Bill William, or every Dan Daniel, or every Ted Theodore or every Jan Janice or every Sam Samantha or every Liz Elizabeth. We already have a culture that permits cis people to change their names, their given names and their family names and their titles, for any reason. There is no reason other than prejudice I can think of to deny the legitimacy of trans people using the exact same machinery that everyone else has for decades.

So the anti-rights protesters set up the expectation that trans folk ought to act “civil” during a discussion in which our opponents engage in cheap shots and dirty tactics that we either have to ignore or change the topic to redress, while defaming us as predators and rapists.

Right.

-Shiv

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

Self care Saturday, November 19: Taboo

I know it’s weird to consider volunteering self care but I am in dire need of a long term unplug. The entire US Election was a months-long trigger for all the nastiness that gets bottled up from a sexual assault, and then even more news hit my feed from abroad which was just a bit too much.

If you’re going to (link NSFW) Edmonton Taboo, I’ll be at the Alberta Sex Positive Education Community Centre’s booth. Look for the tiny person in a flowery dress and combat boots. Brown pixie cut, beanie, Pride bracelet. That’s me. Come say hi. Or don’t, I’m not the boss of you. I’m there during the day today and tomorrow. Tonight I might poke around the dungeon.

In sparse Good News Land: Bill C-16 passed in the House of Commons and is now on to the Senate.

Take care of yourselves.

-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

The Education Minister’s open letter to Alberta students

Alberta’s Education Minister, David Eggen, posted an open letter to Alberta students, reiterating the Minister’s stated declaration that all school boards would be in compliance with Bill 10 and the gender-affirmation guidelines:

A few weeks from now, you and thousands of other Alberta students will head back to class. And when you do, you have rights that your schools will respect.

You have the right to feel safe and welcome at school.

You have the right to create a Gay-Straight Alliance or a Queer-Straight Alliance, and you have the right to name your clubs this way.

You have the right to use the washroom that is consistent with your gender identity. I want you to know that I will support each and every one of you. Together, we will make sure that the rights you have, and the policies your school boards have worked on, are being lived out in your schools.

As Minister of Education, I have been working with your school boards to make sure that our schools are welcoming and caring. All boards have created new policies to support LGBTQ students and they will now come to life in your schools.

In the coming weeks, Alberta Education will be promoting new resources to make sure that schools are safe and welcoming. You can also reach out directly to my staff, who can help you ensure your rights are being respected, at studentsupport@gov.ab.ca.

As we stand together, let’s embrace the differences in one another.

We will all be better for it in the long run.

And remember: I’m with you one hundred per cent.

David Eggen, Minister of Education

I have criticized the NDP for doing a lot of ideological grandstanding with very little in the way of substantive change. After months of lobbying from reactionary groups (most of which are Catholic affiliated), the Minister releases this statement once again holding firm that no school board, Catholic or public, will be permitted to antagonize Queer students. And it’s worth noting that while the reactionary groups complaining loudly are mostly religious, the local trans community has reported antagonism from public school board administrators as well.

I suppose moving forward I’ll wait a couple months to actually see it in action. I want to see consequences for administrators who bully Queer youth before I believe the NDP’s intentions to be genuine.

And yes, I’m still writing and meeting and speaking with my MLA to write Catholic conscience exemptions out of law. Somehow I doubt that particular agenda will get anywhere. But at least by going to the forums, asking the question in front of everyone, writing in, and making meetings with MLAs and supporting staff, they are aware that some of their voting base would really like to see all public services governed by… you know, public law.

Radical idea, I know.

-Shiv


 

Edit August 17: Fixed formatting glitch.

“It’s no big deal,” says bar owner barring trans people from peeing

Content Notice: Transphobia and harassment.

You can practically hear the mental acrobatics being performed by the management of Corona Tavern, one “Lorraine,” interviewed in a fantastic piece of journalism on Community TV about two incidents: one alleging the bar and its security staff harassed a trans woman patron, and another alleging the bar posted a transphobic sign regarding washroom use. The interview is only 5 minutes long, and I feel it is critical to witness first hand what it’s like trying to navigate through the tangled mess that is transphobia. If you consider yourself a trans ally, please check it out, either at the link above or again in the video below. Please try to truly comprehend what it’s like dealing with people who antagonize you without an ounce of rational thinking.

Corona Tavern is a bar in Medicine Hat, Alberta, that posted this lovely sign, which keen observers will know is a rather flagrant violation of Bill 7:

sign

This sign was shared on social media shortly after the account of a trans woman who states in her interaction with Corona Tavern that management said “[the owner] would’ve thrown me out of the bar for using that bathroom.”

Yes, you read that right–not for harassing patrons, not for assaulting patrons–for peeing. In the toilet, mind. Peeing where you’re supposed to pee is against Da Rules now.

Corona Tavern has two parts to this:

  1. The harassment they enacted on the trans woman patron who did sweet fuck all but mind her own business;
  2. The transphobic sign stating patrons “must use the bathroom of their birth gender,” despite the fact that this is now a criminal thing to require under Bill 7.

Regarding point #2, let’s review this interview from Community TV, a conversation between a journalist and the management of Corona Tavern:

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