Transphobia is alive and well in Ontario
Nov 19, 2012

Transphobia is alive and well in Ontario

As a follower of both US and Canadian politics, but a Canadian resident, it is a source of national pride that much of the most abhorrent aspects of the culture wars in the US are, thankfully, absent in Canada. For all our faults, our elections don't seem to have an over abundance of old conservative white men who can't quite restrain themselves from talking about "legitimate rape" and the "gift from god" that a rape baby presents. Even our socially conservative Prime Minister has, as a credit to his political savvy if not his ideological tendencies, clamped down on debates over abortion and gay rights and the divisive fear mongering that too often accompanies them.

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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Anonymous said...

"old conservative white men"

You sound like a racist.

bazie said...

But not a sexist? Or an ageist? It is a testament, I think, to the success of the civil rights movement that our society has so deeply internalized the idea that racism is wrong that any possible hint or sign of it possibly appearing can - and usually will - be called out. That is a good thing, and as someone who frequently calls out racism (such as the racism involved in the culture wars in the US for both ostensibly racial issues like immigration and also on seemingly benign ones like abortion), I would much prefer the situation to be the one where people call out others for possible racism when they might be wrong (as your suggestion is here) than the one where people don't call out racism when they might be right.

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