Bill C-279

I was in Parliament the other day, to attend the vote on the third reading of Bill C-279 in the House of Commons. It passed, despite the Conservative Party being near-unanimous in its opposition.

Mr. Speaker, I stand today to present, on behalf of thousands of people who sent these to my office, petitions in opposition to Bill C-279, otherwise known as “the bathroom bill”, that would give transgendered men access to women’s public washroom facilities. These constituents feel that it is the duty of the House of Commons to protect and safeguard our children from any exposure and harm that would come from giving a man access to women’s public washroom facilities.

Rob Anders, Conservative MP from Calgary West

It wasn’t all good news. Gender expression was taken out of the bill. If you’re not familiar with gender identity, gender expression, and sexuality, I like to refer people to the Genderbread Person.

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This bill passed by a hairline: 149 for, 137 against. It was a long time coming. Former MP Bill Siksay had spent many years trying to get such a bill through, only to have them die due to elections. Three times he had tabled that bill.

Let’s be clear. When we talk about awful statistics with regards to “LGBT” people, it’s disproportionately represented by the “T” – and even more represented for trans women of colour. While this bill won’t change the minds of Canadians overnight, it is a small cog that facilitates a shift.

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I know too many people who are no longer with us. I know too many people who have tried to leave. I know too many people who lost their families. This isn’t the exception, it’s almost the fucking norm.

That Conservative MP openly called trans women a threat to women and children. Pedophiles, apparently. And this is so accepted, so normal, that no one bats an eye. No one calls him on it. If he was objecting to Jews or people of colour using a washroom – there’d be an outrage.

But just like homophobic discourse is still acceptable today (see opposition to Manitoba’s anti-bullying bill), so too is transphobia. So yeah, I think this bill’s power isn’t so much the legislative repercussions, but the message it sends.