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.

8 thoughts on “Canadian Trans Rights Bill Passes

  1. I read some of the major House speeches on C-389 delivered May 10, 2010 and found an interesting disconnect.

    Members who spoke against the bill raised two questions: is this already covered; and why are the two terms which use the word gender are not defined? Ms. Lois Brown (Newmarket—Aurora, CPC) went one step further and pointed out other jurisdictions which include definitions in their laws.

    Why not add definitions through an amendment or a new bill?

    I think the answer can be found in the contradiction within a June 8, 2010 speech which I’ll summarize as follows: Gender is already protected by Human Rights Tribunals; so the change is not necessary but symbolic; so we’ll question why this ‘minority group’ receives symbolic mention; and we, therefore, oppose the bill because we claim that the law should be precise, clear, and concise.

    However, common word meaning (e.g. dictionaries) must be used because definitions in statute use words which themselves have no definition in statute. If sex and gender are different words and the statute does not deem one to be a subset of the other in our law, then we are missing the precision and clarity for which Mr. Daniel Petit (Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Justice, CPC) calls.

    Upon seeing that contradiction between what the law should be (i.e. clear & precise) and how the law is applied (i.e. my muddling the definitions of the available protected grounds) we understand the amendments in C-389 are necessary.

    (CPC is right to worry about mysterious side effects. We should worry that much of the gender-based protection already allotted by tribunals was probably incorrect – by law – because definitions were twisted to maintain equity/fairness of law. This bill can fix that problem. And past decisions that protected individuals should be upheld in the interest of having equitable law. If this bill is disliked for other reasons, then I propose ‘sex’ be redefined in statute to include ‘gender’; As the marriage law fiasco of recent years attempted to narrow statutory rights, this would be an expansion of human rights.)

    [LEGISinfo for Bill C-389 links to all seven House debates (in the Hansard publication – a transcript of words spoken) and the associated committee work.]

  2. I read some of the major House speeches on C-389 delivered May 10, 2010 and found an interesting disconnect.

    Members who spoke against the bill raised two questions: is this already covered; and why are the two terms which use the word gender are not defined? Ms. Lois Brown (Newmarket—Aurora, CPC) went one step further and pointed out other jurisdictions which include definitions in their laws.

    Why not add definitions through an amendment or a new bill?

    I think the answer can be found in the contradiction within a June 8, 2010 speech which I’ll summarize as follows: Gender is already protected by Human Rights Tribunals; so the change is not necessary but symbolic; so we’ll question why this ‘minority group’ receives symbolic mention; and we, therefore, oppose the bill because we claim that the law should be precise, clear, and concise.

    However, common word meaning (e.g. dictionaries) must be used because definitions in statute use words which themselves have no definition in statute. If sex and gender are different words and the statute does not deem one to be a subset of the other in our law, then we are missing the precision and clarity for which Mr. Daniel Petit (Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Justice, CPC) calls.

    Upon seeing that contradiction between what the law should be (i.e. clear & precise) and how the law is applied (i.e. my muddling the definitions of the available protected grounds) we understand the amendments in C-389 are necessary.

    (CPC is right to worry about mysterious side effects. We should worry that much of the gender-based protection already allotted by tribunals was probably incorrect – by law – because definitions were twisted to maintain equity/fairness of law. This bill can fix that problem. And past decisions that protected individuals should be upheld in the interest of having equitable law. If this bill is disliked for other reasons, then I propose ‘sex’ be redefined in statute to include ‘gender’; As the marriage law fiasco of recent years attempted to narrow statutory rights, this would be an expansion of human rights.)

    [LEGISinfo for Bill C-389 links to all seven House debates (in the Hansard publication – a transcript of words spoken) and the associated committee work.]

  3. […] As it was with the last debate, the MPs focused on the definition of the terms “gender identity” and “gender expression,” and some dispelled myths about the proposed changes. The Bill is not yet Canadian law, it still has to pass the Senate. Dented Blue Mercedes has an excellent summary of this reading and passing of Bill C-389 and Feminist Philosophers has a brief discussion of the Bill here. […]

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