Canadian bill C-16 passed.

“The bill updates the Canadian Human Rights Act and the Criminal Code to include the terms “gender identity” and “gender expression.” The legislation also makes it illegal to discriminate on the basis of gender identity or expression. It would also extend hate speech laws to include the two terms, and make it a hate crime to target someone for being transgender.

Critically, the bill also amends the sentencing principles section of the code so that a person’s gender identity or expression can be considered an aggravating circumstance by a judge during sentencing.”

As with much of queer politics, defining terms is pretty much up to who you happen to ask, or what day it is, or really how you feel about it at the time.  So, let’s grab some terms from some lazy searches on google.  These two categories are now included in the the Canadian Human Rights Act and Criminal Code.

Wikipedia – Gender identity – is one’s personal experience of one’s own gender.[1] Gender identity can correlate with assigned sex at birth, or can differ from it completely.

    “Merriam Webster Gender expression:  The physical and behavioral manifestations of one’s gender identity People vary greatly in the extent to which they hold and convey gendered thoughts, feelings, and behaviors. Gender expression refers to the way people convey their gender through mannerisms, behaviors, or expressions. — Robert C. Eklund and Gershon Tenenbaum (editors), Encyclopedia of Sport and Exercise Psychology, 2014 For most people, … gender expression occurs so naturally it’s unnoticeable. Except when gender expression doesn’t match traditional notions of the gender assigned at birth. — Will Dean, The Desert Sun (Palm Springs, California), 12 June 2015″

   Perhaps we should try one more source.   Another definition of gender identity this time from Canadian Justice Minister Jody Wilson-Raybould, who introduced the legislation –

“Gender identity is a person’s internal or individual experience of their gender. It is a deeply felt experience of being a man, a woman, or being somewhere along the gender spectrum. Gender expression is how a person publicly presents their gender. It is an external or outward presentation through aspects such as dress, hair, makeup, body language, or voice.”

Luckily I also found a feminist response as well – Meghan Murphy responds

     “But these statements show a deep misunderstanding of what gender is and how it works. Gender is a product of patriarchy. Ideas around masculinity and femininity exist to naturalize men’s domination and women’s subordination. In the past, women were said to be too irrational, emotional, sensitive, and weak to engage in politics and public life. Men were (and often still are) said to be inherently violent, which meant things like marital rape and domestic abuse were accepted as unavoidable facts of life. “Boys will be boys,” is the old saying that continues to be applied to excuse the predatory, violent, or otherwise sexist behaviour of males.

    The feminist movement began back in the late 1800s in protest of these ideas, and continues today on that basis. The idea that gender is something internal, innate, or chosen — expressed through superficial and stereotypical means like hairstyles, clothing, or body language — is deeply regressive.

    Beyond misguided language there is the fact that we are very quickly pushing through legislation that conflicts with already established rights and protections for women and girls.

    Women’s spaces — including homeless shelters, transition houses, washrooms, and change rooms — exist to offer women protection from men. It isn’t men who fear that women might enter their locker rooms and flash, harass, assault, abuse, photograph, or kill them… This reality is often left unaddressed in conversations around gender identity. This reality is sex-based, not identity-based. Men cannot identify their way out of the oppressor class so easily, neither can women simply choose to identify their way out of vulnerability to male violence.”

So here we be – enshrining more patriarchal norms into our laws – big surprise right?  This legislation potentially represents a large step backwards for women.

“As unpopular as this fact has become, a man or boy who wishes to identify as a woman or girl, perhaps taking on stereotypically feminine body language, hairstyles, and clothing, is still male. He still has male sex organs, which means girls and women will continue to see him as a threat and feel uncomfortable with his presence in, say, change rooms. Is it now the responsibility of women and girls to leave their own spaces if they feel unsafe? Are teenage girls obligated to overcome material reality lest they be accused of bigotry? Is the onus on women to suddenly forget everything they know and have experienced with regard to sexual violence, sexual harassment, and the male gaze simply because one individual wishes to have access to the female change room? Because one boy claims he “feels like a girl on the inside?” And what does that mean, anyway?”

So which is more important male gender feelings or female safety?  I would like to advocate here for gender neutral washrooms/changing area as the beginning of a compromise in this area.  We still live in a patriarchy and sex segregated facilities are still necessary for the protection and safety of females in our society.  The choice whether to co-mingle with men in washrooms or change rooms should be up to all those involved.

   “We live in a time when women and girls are killed every day, across the globe, by men. Things like rape, domestic abuse, and the murder of Indigenous women and girls in Canada are still not considered hate crimes. Yet we have managed to push through legislation that may very well equate “misgendering” to hate speech.

    Women are protected under the human rights code on the basis that we are, as a group, discriminated against on account of our biology. Employers still choose not to hire women based on the assumption that they will become pregnant. Women are still fighting to have access to women-only spaces (including washrooms and locker rooms) in male-dominated workplaces like fire departments, in order to escape sexual harassment and assault.”

I have serious misgivings about this legislation.  The concerns raised by radical feminists such as Meghan Murphy, have mostly been brushed aside, unsurprisingly as her concerns focus on the female experience in society and how this legislation is going to impact females (thanks again patriarchy).

Critical analysis and more debate is necessary on contentious topics such as the now passed bill C-16 – I hope more discussions can be had and that so we can ensure the safety and security of females in our society.

 

 

 

 

Advertisements