We need to keep fighting! Bill C-389

15 02 2011

I strongly urge all readers who are residents of Canada to check out this link.

It contains a sample letter and an easy “copy-pastable” list of Canadian senators who will soon be deciding the fate of Bill C-389. If you didn’t already know, this bill would ensure rights for trans people in Canada by adding gender identity and gender expression to the list of prohibited grounds for discrimination in the Canadian charter of human rights. (More on this issue here.) You are free to write your own letter of course but if time is short and words fail you, 2 minutes of your time is all it takes to copy and paste this sample letter and list of senators into your email and click send.

Right now, the people who have the government’s ears are the extreme right-wing nuts who think that all trans people are pedophiles out to get into the showers of little girls. So if we don’t speak up “en masse,” this bill will die and who knows if trans people will have official rights in Canada any time in the next 50 years.

Thanks in advance for any little thing you can do to help!

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Bill C-389 passes third reading in Canada’s House of Commons

9 02 2011

Bill C-389, a private member’s bill by NDP MP Bill Siksay, has just passed third reading in Canada’s House of Commons. The vote was 143 in favor and 135 against. This is very exciting news as the only step left for this bill is to be approved by the senate. For the people who have been working hard to get this bill passed, including Bill Siksay, Matt McLauchlin and I’m sure many others, this has been a stressful time since the current leadership is aiming for spring elections. According to my limited understanding, if the bill does not go through the whole process before the next election, it dies. Then we would have to start all over again.

If it does go through, then trans people of all flavours of trans should be protected by law in Canada. Will this fix everything? Probably not. Same sex marriage (not gay marriage, since being married to a person of the same sex would not make a bi person gay, thank you very much) has been legal in Canada for years now and yet there is still homophobia. So it would stand to reason that making discrimination against people based on gender identity and gender expression illegal would not eliminate transphobia.

And even if transphobia gradually declines over time, we have to remember that trans people of colour, First Nations trans people (some of whom might identify as Two-Spirit individuals,) trans people with disabilities, trans people from lower socio-economic backgrounds, trans people without status, trans people with an intersex experience,  trans sex workers and elderly trans people will still be targets of marginalisation and discrimination. If we truly want equal access to dignity and well-being for all trans people, we need to keep in mind that we have to work against ALL forms of oppression.

Bill C-389 is a step in the right direction for sure but it is not the end of the struggle against oppression. It is certainly worth celebrating its progress, however, and worth applauding the efforts of the people who worked hard to get this bill through. My warmest thanks goes out to them as well as a pledge to continue to work against oppression at the sides of all those who want to help shape a society that is anti-oppression.





A vow

26 01 2011

Recently, I’ve been trying to educate myself about the realities of asexual people and intersex people. I’ve been writing and speaking about “LGBT” issues for a long time, and often more specifically about the B and T that directly affect me. Years ago, I adopted LGBT as a shorthand for all non-heteronormative and non-cis identities and in doing so, I’m increasinly aware that I’ve been guilty of contributing to the erasure of a whole bunch of other people.

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Trans Action in Montreal – June 10, 2010

5 01 2011

An interesting political action took place in Montreal last year, initiated by a young group called PolitiQ. I wish I could’ve been more involved in it because this is an issue I’d been wanting to take action on for years. Indeed, this was more important to me than the fight to get trans surgeries covered by the government. But the timing was all wrong for me as I was in the final stages of preparing for fieldwork. I did what I could to help but it wasn’t nearly as much as I wanted to do. Nevertheless, I’m very happy with how things turned out.

The action was directed at Quebec’s Directeur de l’état civil (DEC), the organisation in charge of birth, marriage and death certificates as well as change of name and change of sex marker certificates. Although they have improved the process somewhat for trans people in the last few years, namely by allowing trans people to obtain their change of name faster than the typical route requiring use of the chosen name for 5 years, many of us take issue with their criteria for a change of sex marker. Not only is the section on dealing with the topic hidden in the change of name section, the description of the requirements is ambiguous:

Any person who has successfully undergone medical treatments and surgical operations involving a structural modification of sexual organs intended to change his or her sexual characteristics may obtain a change of designation of sex his or her act of birth and, if necessary, a change of given names.

Since we know that most bureaucrats (apologies to any bureaucrats reading this who actually have a clue, but you have to admit that most do not) are completely out of touch with reality, it was doubtful in many of our minds that this institution actually had a clear idea of the wide variety of “surgical operations” available to trans people. So upon reading this, the reaction that I and many trans folk in Quebec have is: “OK…so what, concretely, do I need? A hysto, top surgery, a meta or a phallo (for FTMs)? A vaginoplasty and breast construction (for MTFs)?”

Many, but not all trans people, feel that medical procedures should’t even be a requirement. I am of this school. Not everyone wants to go through medical transition in order to socially transition. This should be an option. However, by the state’s current requirements, we are required to undergo sterilization to be able to legally change our sex designation – clearly a human rights violation.

PolitiQ’s action consisted of a manifesto decrying the problems with the current requirements for both name and sex designation changes for trans people. We collected signatures of support from many LGBT groups, women’s groups, student groups, activists, professionals working with trans people and university professors.  The manifesto was sent to the DEC on June 17th, 2010 along with a call for a meeting to discuss ways in which to improve their criteria.

On that day, we also held a peaceful protest in front of the DEC’s Montreal office. From what I heard, this was the first specifically Trans action to take place in Montreal. I was very proud to be a part of it! Spirits were high as people begun to gather – on time! This was notable as Montreal Time tends to mean that people start thinking about getting dressed at the time an event is supposed to start! But within the first half hour after the announced assembly time, there were already about 100 people if I recall correctly (anyone reading this who has more specific numbers, please feel free to correct me.) And by the time the demo actually started, I think there were 200 people. We sang, we danced, we handed out flyers to passers-by. And then there were speeches. I was one of the people asked to speak and I felt very privileged to do so. At the end, we had a “die-in.” The police officers nearby were actually very helpful in stopping traffic so that we could hold it, which was surprising since this was an unregistered demo.

There is a video with excerpts from the demo, including bits of all the speeches, here.

Kudos to all who worked hard to make this happen! Let’s hope that it is fruitful in the long run. As it stands, I haven’t heard whether the DEC has accepted to meet with community representatives.





Recommended reading?

2 01 2011

I’d like to read (and link to) more blogs by people whose experiences are different from my own to educate myself by hearing different realities. I’ve found a few already and will update my blogroll soon. But if anyone has any recommendations, please leave them in the comments section!

I’m especially interested in blogs about the following topics (by people who experience them) but of course, please feel free to point me toward blogs that you feel would help educate me and others:

  • intersex
  • 2 Spirit
  • asexuality
  • LGBTT2QQIAA* People of Colour
  • LGBTT2QQIAA Native people
  • LGBTT2QQIAA people with dis/abilities, including neurodiversity issues
  • LGBTT2QQIAAoutside of North America
  • LGBTT2QQIAA fatties
  • sex workers
  • any social justice or feminist oriented blogs

*LGBTT2QQIAA = lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, transsexual, 2-spirit, queer, questionning, intersex, asexuals, allies. If anyone has any suggestion for a replacement for LGBTT2QQIAA, please let me know! I like queer for myself to lump together all my own identities but I know a lot of people don’t like it for themselves. I’ve been very guilty of shortening it to LGBT but am increasingly uncomfortable with how this removes the visibility of so many people. At the same time, I don’t want to use all the letters without being informed and examining my own assumptions. I haven’t come across a term out there that is truly inclusive. Debates on whether or not all these groups of people should even be lumped together abound and I won’t go into the politics of that right now except to say that I feel strongly about solidarity. Thus my desire to inform myself.





Creative inclusive discussion spaces

1 01 2011

In my previous post, I ended by mentionning the problems involved in mixed gender spaces such as conferences or discussion groups. This was in response to Tarald‘s post in which he described:

a pre-meeting where the women had a brief seminar in taking up space, being vocal and proud, while the men sat down to discuss how we could leave some space for the women, how not to use our male privilege etc.

Last year, during and after a seminar on feminism at which many queer and trans women and men were present, we had this
sort of discussion.  An idea that came up and is apparently in use at woman-centered conferences, is a seperate mic for women and men to respond to a conference presentation or in a group discussion.

I have mixed feelings about this. Having been socialised as female, I know damn well that it is part of female socialisation to shut up and wait to be spoken to, to not take up too much space, etc. And having been to many mixed events where no effort was made to parry this inequality, I also know damn well that it tends to be men who monopolise the discussion. However, I’m a bit wary of
such a cut and dry method. For one thing, it maintains the idea that all women are the same and that all men are the same. It does little to encourage the shyer women from taking space relative to the more vocal women. And it also doesn’t really, I think, encourage men to actually think about their privilege.

So I spent some time thinking about other ways to foster inclusion and to encourage more people to speak up. Here are some of the tools I thought could be useful.

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White privilege

10 12 2009

I just had to link to this post on scapegoating.