It was a further source of pride that my local Ontario MPP for Parkdale-Highpark, Cheri DiNovo, who once performed Canada's first legal gay marriage as a United Church reverend, has taken a strong leadership role in passing a private members bill named 'Toby's Law' that extends basic human rights protections to transgendered people. The gay rights community, as an umbrella community, usually attempts to include transgendered people and issues, but they unfortunately often get a little lost and fixes often come for gay issues before they do for transgendered issues. Even the most stalwart gay rights defender can, at times, have hesitant feelings on transgender issues, a fact that we must work hard to combat as we promote both social and legal equality for all.
With that backdrop, it was an unpleasant experience to check my snail mail and find. from the Family Coalition Party of Ontario, a lovely brochure with the above picture on it with the following disgusting, hateful talking points included about what the bill will do (emphasis mine):
- Create a legal right for a man who calls himself a transgendered to use a public bathroom intended for women;
- Allow the right to 'gender expression' to be interpreted by the courts as giving men the right to 'express their gender' by using a girl's washroom, change room or shower;
- Threaten the lives of girls and women by putting them at greater risk from male sexual predators;
- Give men a legal alibi for getting caught in the girls bathroom or change room, thereby freeing them to offend another day;
- Allow men who plan to assault women in the bathroom to escape prosecution by pretending to be a cross-dresser.
Because, of course, transgendered people are evil child molesters and if you allow this we are going to be threatening the lives of cute little girls in pigtails. It is fear mongering at its most loathsome. For the record, just in case anyone does not know, the correct male/female pronouns to apply to a transgendered person is to use their outwardly expressed gender; if you are going to be bigoted, at least get it right.
We have heard of all this before. We have heard of how allowing gay marriage will allow pedophiles in schools to convert children to being gay. Anything that can be thrown at 'the other' to make them seem as disgusting sexual deviants has, at some point been thrown. I don't know who effective this tactic is these days although I like to hope that the blowback (such as posts like this) will overwhelm any effectiveness it may have as people correctly identify and reject the disgusting fearmonger for being just that. However, public perceptions of transgendered people have not gotten the kind of acceptance that the first three letters in LGBT have, and it is more than reasonable to worry that a pamphlet like this can be damaging.
Unsurprisingly, Cheri DiNovo has demanded an apology, and is also threatening legal action:
“We in Parkdale-High Park, and trans people everywhere, demand an apology from the Family Coalition Party of Ontario and are considering a complaint against them on human rights grounds to the Ontario Human Rights Tribunal,” said MPP DiNovo. “This is a blatant attack on the trans communities and all who care for human rights in Ontario.”
Hear, hear. I don't know enough about the legal situation to say whether there is any chance that this ostensibly political speak could be counted as hate speech, but I am doubtful. Regardless of the legal stance, it is, undoubtedly, hateful.
At the very least, it is nice to be reminded of why I voted for Cheri DiNovo and can happily stand by that vote today.
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