Ottawa, December 3, 2014

Dear Senator Plett:

Let me begin by expressing gratitude for the work of the House of Sober Second Thought, our Senate, the great effort that has gone into getting Bill C-279 to this stage of the legislative process, and your contribution to this important debate.

Today, instead of a form letter, we express our views as parents of a transgender/gender creative child who is 8 years old.  We do not speak on behalf of the entire transgender community, or any other group.  We acknowledge, with great empathy and sympathy, the numerous Canadians affected by C-279, and recognize that no law is ever ‘perfect’ and that too often, there is no justice in law.

We also thank you for being supportive of the amendments to the Criminal Code, which adds ‘gender identity’ as a new prohibited ground for hate crime and genocide, but we want you to understand our concern that this alone is not enough to protect our children at school, at the mall, in movie theatres, or in the future workplace.

We knew nothing much about gender identity when our child was born in 2006, but we read as much as we can in our limited spare time to find out more since 2008, when our child first started articulating a desire to be different than what we thought s/he was.  Our understanding of the suggested amendments to C-279, would mean that our child, and so many others, would be subjected to an increased amount of ridicule, abuse, and shame, however unintended these consequences may be.

While I appreciate that the inclusion of gender fluid individuals may, initially, cause some confusion at correctional facilities, women’s shelters, and public change rooms, there are many constructive and practical methods of avoiding or preventing this confusion, and many parents of transgender kids volunteer daily to help educate, collaborate and offer reasonable solutions that will ease the accommodation process.  In addition, many schools are implementing positive and inclusive accommodation practices.

Yes, gender fluidity is quite common in the transgender community.  Our beautiful boy wants to be a girl, and has demanded from us, the right to decide his/her own identity, in his/her own time.  As a parent yourself, you know you would do anything to support your kid through any stage of development, no matter what challenges the rites of passage entailed. And though there may be occasional individuals who are confused and struggling with their identity for a short period of time in their life, the current research we have viewed suggests that few return to their assigned gender.  We are therefore unclear as to why the struggle for identity in one person, represents a threat to any other Canadian citizen, or their discretion or modesty, and why lawmakers are concerned, if there is no undue hardship caused the general population, or the sincere believer?

When my son asked me at the age of three whether or not his penis would ever shrink, I am ashamed to admit, I tried to be a politician, and I answered a question with a question.  “Is that what YOU want?” I asked him.  His ardent, insistent, and consistent response has been (for five years now) a resounding yes!  He simply feels ‘wrong’ in the body nature has assigned his spirit.  I hasten to add, my words of comfort to my son at the time, were based on teachings from an Ojibwe elder, who noted that, like the Algonquin, many indigenous populations around the world have valued, supported, and welcomed ‘two-spirited’/’two-gendered’ individuals for many centuries before our common law prevailed.

While we understand you must consider all legitimate concerns, we ask that you also consider a variety of perspectives.  For example, the social media group we participate in is dedicated to supporting parents of transgender kids and has come up with many creative solutions to address concerns over public washroom/change room use.  We know that many mothers have shared washrooms with all genders for many years, their own children as well as those they knew nothing about.  So we can offer reassurance to parents that their momentary discomfort might be worth preventing one child or youth death.

It is the LIFE of our children that is our concern.  Death by suicide, death by bullying, death by beating, death by a million tiny slices and stings and looks and glares, death by ignorance and hatred, death by paperwork, by a million explanations, by passports, by security checks, and hospital forms. This kind of death is long, slow and painful.

Despite our best efforts, we know these are the possible consequences for our children whether C-279 passes or not.  We ask for your help, in your role as legislators, to protect so many kids… any way you can.  Help us protect their LIFE.

Please let us help you work toward appropriate solutions, so that C-279 can pass, unamended.