Canada’s Parliament is currently considering Bill C-279, which would add gender identity and gender expression to the Canadian Human Rights Act (CHRA), explicitly protecting trans citizens from discrimination. Conservatives are unsurprisingly deploying the “bathroom” meme, attempting to scare voters that the bill’s goal “is to give transgendered men access to women’s washrooms” so that they can sexually abuse children — claims without any compelling evidence.
But now, the conservative outlet LifeSiteNews is trying to offer a new rhetorical argument against the legislation. It reported yesterday that Ian Fine, a representative from the Canadian Human Rights Commission, testified that the bill “strictly speaking…isn’t necessary” because trans people have already been offered under the CHRA “sex” protections. Of course, LifeSiteNews neglected to include the full context of Fine’s remarks. Here they are:
FINE: Strictly speaking, I suppose the legislation isn’t necessary, but we see other reasons why it would be important to include these two grounds under our act, and we do support them.
For one thing, it would provide the clarity that I think we believe is missing at this point, because as much as it’s true that the commission and tribunals and courts do accept transgender issues as falling under the ground of sex, parties still debate that issue before those very tribunals and courts and question whether or not transgender issues fall under sex. In one case I know of, an issue was raised as to whether or not you could even raise the issue under sex and instead should raise it under disability.
There continue to be these debates, so for clarity reasons, we believe it would be a good thing to add these two grounds. Also, as I said at the outset, it would be a recognition of the discrimination that this group faces: the sometimes hostile and violent acts that this group faces in our society. So it would recognize the vulnerability of this group, of these individuals.
So even though technically trans people have been protected under the category of “sex,” they have to spend extra time and money fighting for that protection every time someone files a complaint. Specifically indicating gender identity and expression in the CHRA would prevent future confusion or doubt that they are indeed protected, and they would be relieved of the burden of having to advocate for themselves every time they are the victim of mistreatment.
It’s telling that an outlet opposed to the bill would even attempt to use such a weak argument against it. If trans Canadians are already supposed to be protected under law, nothing should be lost by ensuring that they are. Instead, conservatives would prefer to keep the CHRA weak so that it remains easier to discriminate and demonize the transgender community.