Trans Rights Passes but its Fate is Uncertain

Yesterday’s excellent news in Canada turns into today’s Tory horror show. The Globe and Mail predicts that the transgendered-rights bill is headed for defeat in the Tory-held Senate. Bill C-389 would amend the Canadian Human Rights Act to protect the rights of transgendered or transsexual citizens. It would prohibit discrimination on the basis of “gender identity” or “gender expression” in the workplace or elsewhere, and would amend the Criminal Code to make crimes committed against people because they are transgendered or transsexual a hate crime.

Bill C-389 was a Private Member’s bill, sponsored by NDP MP Bill Siksay. Normally private members have little chance of passing but what was remarkable in this case that MPs from all parties, including several Conservatives, rallied behind the legislation. But Canada’s Conservatives, who have a majority in the Red Chamber, have adopted the tactic of using the Senate to block private-members’ bills passed by the House of Commons that don’t accord with the government’s agenda.

For example legislation to force the government to act on climate change was defeated last year, while bills requiring Supreme Court judges to be bilingual, providing tax credits for university graduates who work in certain regions and offering restitution for Italian Canadians interned during the Second World War, lie in limbo.

Since Prime Minister Stephen Harper does not support the transgendered-rights legislation, it will doubtless face similar purgatory when it arrives in the Senate.

Most of this story is from the Globe and Mail article. You can read more from The Globe and Mail, , including what the bill’s crazy critics have to say, here. A commentary supporting the bill was also published in the Globe and Mail.

CFP: Bellingham

The twelfth annual Bellingham Summer Philosophy Conference will be held July 31st-August 4th, 2011 in Bellingham, Washington.

Everyone in the world is invited to submit a paper, or to volunteer to be a commentator or session chair, but conference attendance is by invitation only, and will be primarily limited to those whose papers are accepted for presentation, and those volunteers who are asked to commentate/chair.

To submit a paper: Papers submitted to the 2011 BSPC are simultaneously submitted to the BSPC 2011 special issue of Philosophical Studies; so they must be papers that are not submitted (or scheduled) for publication elsewhere. (Authors whose papers are chosen for the Philosophical Studies issue will have a chance to revise their papers after getting feedback during the conference.) Submissions should be prepared for anonymous review and emailed to the 2011 BSPC Program Committee at bspc2011 AT Papers on any topic are welcome, but the conference program committee will be looking for papers that are of interest to all BSPC participants, regardless of AOS. Papers of any length will be considered, but shorter papers (under 25 pages) will have a better chance of being accepted than longer papers. The deadline for submissions is March 1st, 2011. Prospective authors will be notified of the Program Committee’s decisions by early May.

To volunteer to be a commentator or chair: All volunteers should e-mail the 2011 BSPC Program Committee at bspc2011 AT Prospective commentators should indicate their areas of specialization. The deadline for volunteering is March 1st, 2011. Volunteers will be notified of the Program Committee’s decisions by early May.

Please note: The BSPC is a workshop-style conference whose participants are expected to read all of the papers in advance and to come prepared for discussion. You should not submit a paper or volunteer to comment or chair unless you plan on being a responsible conference participant.

For more information about the conference, go here.

Canadian Trans Rights Bill Passes

Finally, some good news! Excellent and exciting news, in fact. Canada’s House of Commons passed a bill today that will amend the Canadian Human Rights Act and Criminal Code, adding protective measures for transgender and transsexual people. The final vote was 143 for and 135 against the bill. Some Liberals voted against it and some Conservatives voted for it. Bill C-389, An Act to amend the Canadian Human Rights Act and the Criminal Code (gender identity and gender expression), is a private member’s bill that was first debated on May 10, 2010.

The Registered Nurses Association of Ontario website urged Canadian nurses to contact their members of parliament to support the bill. The RNAO writes, “By updating the Canadian Human Rights Act to include gender identity and gender expression as prohibited grounds for discrimination and amending the Criminal Code of Canada to include gender identity and gender expression in the hate crime and sentencing provisions, Bill C-389 is an essential step in providing full human rights protection for one of the most marginalized groups in our society. Transsexual and transgender people all too often experience discrimination, harassment, and violence because of their gender identity and gender expression. These injustices prevent access to safe learning environments at school, deny employment opportunity and stability, hinder access to income security, food security, and housing, and create barriers for appropriate, inclusive health and human services.” See more here.

The right wing and conservative Christian blogs are all hot and bothered by the bill’s passing, warning us that now transgenderism will be taught in kindergarten (the shock, the horror!) and worse yet, strict sex segregation in washroms will be harder to enforce. I won’t provide links to them. Googling REAL Women of Canada (a conservative women’s group) will get you some of it. And I’ll add links later to coverage by the LGBT press.

Really wonderful to have good news for a change.