I don’t know if you realized it when it happened, but last time around here in Canada, when bill C-389 amending the standing 1977 Canadian Human Rights Act to include transsexual and transgender rights was about to pass in the last parliament, it became a victim of the 2011 election when the government was dissolved before it could become law.
The process, which had taken almost a year, fell apart before its proponents’ eyes. Transsexual and transgender persons came within a hair’s breadth of being protected under our Charter, but became an accidental casualty instead of Harper’s bid for more power. They truly snatched defeat from the jaws of victory.
If you have a memory that stretches all the way back to 2011, you’ll remember the common media narrative and pushback against this bill was that it was the “Bathroom Bill” — a bid to allow “perverts” to use a woman’s bathroom despite having a penis, and possibly prey on unsuspecting little girls. Suddenly, public bathrooms would go from safe havens to molestation central.
You know, because homosexuality and transsexuality are all about molesting little kids. Or something.
So, you might be surprised to know that this time around, now that Bill C-276 by Liberal MP Hedy Fry and C-279 by NDP MP Randall Garrison were introduced and now that by luck of the draw Garrison’s bill was read into the Parliament, pretty much nobody’s taking it seriously at all.
Not the media, not the MPs, nobody.
Now, I realize this might be because we progressives are getting pretty damned used to having, well, basically everything that is right and just and necessary and laudable in this world completely scuttled repeatedly by Harper’s present regime. But the media was all over the Tories’ narrative last time around — this time it’s just being ignored by everyone but us blogospheroids. Including, of course, a petition spread around by us blogospheroids aiming to get this bill noticed, and to push it through all the same hoops that the last one cleared before time ran out. Despite all this, the petition has almost no traction itself, with just over 700 signatures at time of publication.
Natalie Reed covered this topic to explain why this is so important to certain Canadians whose rights are being trampled legal without recourse:
Real living, breathing Canadians like my friend Sonya. She can’t find work because her identification doesn’t match her presented gender. Her identification doesn’t match her presented gender because she has not yet had lower surgery, required to obtain an updated gender marker on one’s birth certificate. She hasn’t yet had lower surgery because she can’t afford to see a psychiatrist for her required assessment and approval. She can’t afford to see a psychiatrist because she does not have work, and lives on the pittance offered by Quebec’s income assistance. Do you see the problem here? And this is to say nothing of those transgender Canadians who don’t even wish to undergo SRS.
But during this practical black-out, a trans rights story hit the media and is making a big splash. Most probably, because this particular story involves a very heteronormatively attractive post-op transsexual girl who was kicked out of a Canadian beauty pageant.
Let’s never mind all the problems with beauty contests for the moment, please. There are other issues at play here. This story also involves a petition to have Jenna Talackova reinstated in the Miss Universe Canada competition, which has received 23,000 signatures. Of course, any such petition would address only one minor grievance, and leave all those non-traditionally-beautiful trans folk jobless, homeless, mistrusted, abused, under duress and in immediate physical danger.
Know what would have prevented Talackova’s being kicked out of that competition? An amendment to the Canadian Human Rights Act. And the petition to have it heard only has seven hundred signatures.
If you care about human rights, if you actually give a damn about equality and human rights rather than just the story of a pretty girl who got kicked out of a beauty contest on a technicality — which probably only went viral because she’s traditionally pretty — then you’ll sign the right change.org petition.
Even if you’re an American. Actually, ESPECIALLY if you’re an American. The US sadly lags us for human rights and social programs, and if you’re a regular reader of this blog, you’ll know that we’ve got some real regressives in power here at the moment. If this actually by some miracle passes under Harper’s regime, there’s hope for the US.
Also, please pass the petition around. This needs traction. It is important. It is vital. Far more vital, in fact, than white-knighting for a single beauty queen, no matter how nasty it is that she got kicked out of that contest.