Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
Week of November 14, 2005
Rights sought for transgenders
MP Bill Siksay seeks human rights code inclusion
By DEBORAH GYAPONG
Canadian Catholic News
If New Democrat MP Bill Siksay has his way, the Canadian Human Rights act will soon "include gender identity and gender expression as prohibited grounds of discrimination."
"Gender identity refers to the inward sense of one's gender, and gender expression refers to the way one outwardly represents how one understands one's gender identity," Siksay wrote in an Oct. 3 letter to colleagues about his Private Members Bill C-392.
In other words, men who think they are really women trapped in a male's body, and want to dress and act accordingly, or women who think they are men trapped in a female body should have the rights to express their inner "gender" on the job or elsewhere without fear of discrimination.
Siksay introduced An Act to amend the Canadian Human Rights Act (Gender Identity) last spring, but Bill C-392 has not been scheduled for debate.
The openly gay MP has begun to publicize his bill and the Transgender Day of Remembrance Nov. 20. In the letter Siksay uses the umbrella term "trans" to include "transsexuals, transgendered people, intersexed people, and all those who do not identify within the confines of traditional gender."
"Trans people are subject to discrimination, harassment and violence on a daily basis," Siksay wrote. "They are regularly denied things we all take for granted, such as access to health care, housing, the ability to obtain identification documents, access to gendered spaces such as bathrooms, and the ability to acquire and maintain gainful employment."In addition to such discrimination and intimidation, trans people are all too often victims of violent acts such as assault and murder."
McGill professor Douglas Farrow, who co-edited Divorcing Marriage: Unveiling the Dangers in Canada's New Social Experiment, says Siksay's bill is part of a strategy to "bring in the unseemly parts" after same-sex marriage is a fait accompli.
Along with transgendered rights, Farrow pointed to the teaching of gay sex in the public schools.
Real Women of Canada has been tracking the strategy of gay rights groups.
Real Women's national vice president Gwen Landolt said that a third goal, in addition to transgendered rights and gay positive education in the public schools, is to get rid of Criminal Code provisions limiting sexual expression, such as laws against common bawdy houses, nakedness in public, and public performances of sexual acts.
Farrow predicts the results in these areas will "get sillier and sillier until people get fed up or we begin to understand how much of a mistake it (same-sex marriage) has been."
Joseph Ben-Ami, executive director of the new Ottawa think tank the Institute for Canadian Values, says he sometimes feels like he's "having a debate with Daffy Duck." Ben-Ami stressed he was not referring to Siksay as Daffy Duck, but referring to the irrationality of arguments for things like transgendered rights.
"It's frightening because we have to take them seriously. Otherwise, they pass these foolish laws."
Calgary Bishop Fred Henry, who recently received a copy of Siksay's bill, also describes the proposed changes as "ludicrous."
"It would appear that to some there are no longer any sexual aberrations or abnormalities," he says.
Farrow points out that the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine has stopped carrying out sex-change operations, as have many other medical facilities.
In a November 2004 article in First Things Magazine, Dr. Paul McHugh, a professor of psychiatry at Johns Hopkins University, wrote about why, when he was psychiatrist-in- chief at the hospital, he encouraged research into the effects of sex-change operations carried out there. The research showed the surgery did little to change the psychological problems the patients had had prior to the operation. "They had the same problems with relationships, work, and emotions as before.
"With these facts in hand, I concluded that Hopkins was fundamentally cooperating with a mental illness," McHugh wrote. "We psychiatrists, I thought, would do better to concentrate on trying to fix their minds and not their genitalia. We have wasted scientific and technical resources and damaged our professional credibility by collaborating with madness rather than trying to study, cure, and ultimately prevent it."
Henry believes that all parliamentarians should be forced to take introductory courses in both philosophy and ethics. "There is a real poverty of moral and critical thought in some circles."