In the Chamber -- Grant Mitchell's Blog

Top Reasons why the "Bathroom" Amendment to the Transgender Rights Bill C-279 Is Wrong

Posted 3/13/2015 by Grant Mitchell


1. It is inherently discriminatory.       

  • No other element in the Human Rights Act or the Criminal Code is limited in a negative way.
  • It implies that somehow being transgender is a choice and that going into a given washroom is a choice; but a trans woman who simply is a woman - it is who she is and it is how she feels - feels just as awkward walking into a men's washroom as any man does when they have mistakenly walked into a women's washroom.
  • So, at a deeply personal and emotional level this amendment takes away everything the bill would otherwise give. It is important to remember that even more than extending rights, this bill should extend the hand of acceptance and recognition and even as it does that this amendment takes it away.

2. It will not actually change behaviour. Trans men who look perfectly masculine, could well wear a beard, dress and act like any other man will now be forced to go to women's washrooms. How are women going to feel about a trans man, let's say a lawyer, in a beautifully tailored men's three piece suit, sporting a beard, well-muscled physique, entering their washroom or change room? 

Or, what is going to happen to a trans women, every bit as feminine in her demeanour, bearing, world view and dress as any woman, wearing a beautifully tailored dress and accessories to match, entering a men's washroom? 

In fact, who is going to stand at the door of the washroom to determine who is what gender?

3. It is legislative piling on. Already the Criminal Code will deal with anyone, trans or not, who acts in any way inappropriately in a washroom, locker room or any other facility specified in the amendment. It is interesting that Conservatives who hate red tape and legislation would actually pass an amendment that only does what another piece of legislation, the Criminal Code, already does. 

4. There is no evidence that, in any jurisdiction where gender identity rights have been recognized in law, there have been any trans people who have tried to use these rights as an excuse for inappropriate behaviour. There is one case referenced in the US involving the policy of a small US college that it turns out was reported only by Fox News. What is much more significant is the number of US universities that have embraced the rights issue and have developed polices whereby trans people can choose their pronoun of official choice on important documents, change their name for university records and receive support, counselling and official recognition in university policies. What is equally significant is the profound fear that transgender people have of being "discovered" and verbally or physically abused and brutalized because of it. 

5. The amendment is implicitly based upon the assumption that trans people would be the aggressor in any inappropriate/threatening situation, rather than cisgender people who have been the bullies and antagonists against trans people.

6. There have been literally no reported problems in Canada in those 5 provincial jurisdictions where transgender rights have been recognized in laws that fall within provincial jurisdictions. Policies have been developed in schools and many other public institutions that simply make it work.

7. How is it that governments should tell people what their gender is? 

8. Conservatives used one central argument against gun control: that law abiding gun owners should not be held responsible for the actions of non-law abiding gun owners who might do crimes with guns. So, how is it that law abiding transgender people should be held accountable for the potentially criminal activities in washrooms of people who may not even be transgender in the off chance that these people would think to try to use this bill as a way to justify criminal activity in a washroom? 

9. Women's Shelters: One witness who is a women's shelter official said that her shelter had concerns with trans women being allowed into their facility in that they might be a threat to other women there. Currently, one other shelter I spoke to indicated that they consciously hire men so that woman can have the experience of understanding that all men are not violent toward them or lacking in respect. Moreover, shelters all across the country work out policies to deal with anyone who might be threatening whether trans or not. That ability exists now and would not be changed by the recognition of gender identity rights. 

Come on. It is time we stop fighting and let trans people live their lives fully accepted into our society. It is so consistent with central Canadian values to do that. It took so long to recognize gay marriage fighting the silly arguments that somehow it would undermine values and the family. Post gay marriage recognition, what has happened? Society is unaffected and a whole bunch of people are happier than they ever could have been without this recognition.

Please click here to read this blog in French / Veuillez appuyer ici pour lire ce blogue en français

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