Ottawa, Thursday, March 26, 2015)
Dear Senator Plett:
I read your letter to the montreal gazette, and I feel compelled to respond. I have no doubt that you are a well-intentioned human being, and that you do not intend to hurt my darling daughter, Charlie. You said as much, directly to her, when we met you a few weeks ago in Committee. I choose to believe you, and respect you for that reassurance – but I just don’t agree with the one amendment you proposed to C-279 that same day.
The problem is that one controversial amendment makes C-279 of no actual force, effect, or usefulness, because it affords the heads of all federal agencies absolute discretionary power when it comes to ‘dictating’ what facilities should be used, and by whom. This is neither equitable, nor constitutional. It undermines the very legislation you intend to pass….so I must refer to your suggestion as the ‘doublespeak’ amendment.
From my perspective, to equate a transgender person with a sexual predator is despicable. By suggesting that women need protection from sexual predators and disallowing transgender from washrooms/changerooms– you are implying gender variance is pathological. There is absolutely no evidence to support this. It is the same argument offered by previous generations to justify excluding gays and lesbians. It is, as the Canadian Bar Association put it, a mischaracterization. I write today to tell you there are a great many moms of transgender kids (of all ages) out there – who consider this an issue of diversity, not pathology.
We want you to understand that the imposition of traditional gender stereotypes, the rigid and inflexible perception of gender identity into only pink and blue, enslaves our boys into believing that sensitivity, understanding and feelings are not useful, and subdues our girls into accepting less than they deserve. We believe it is considerably more pathological, to deny the humanity of anyone (especially our children) irrespective of their gender.
I hasten to add that though I worry about the safety of women too, I also know that women will be victimized by sexual predators EVERYWHERE, until we as a society change the way we teach our boys, pay our girls, and respond to mental illness. These social challenges have nothing whatever to do with a person’s genitalia, these are issues of power.
Why is the ‘biology’ of a person relevant in anything other than a medical circumstance? My kids bits and pieces don’t define her – that’s kinda the point. To badly paraphrase: ‘the government has no place in the underwear of the nation.’ Why should the federal government suddenly have the right to dictate whether my kid can be herself – just because she joined the Military, CSC, or the RCMP? If you believe this to be just – then perhaps there is a need in this country for a much bigger discussion on gender.
Federal facilities should “never be able to restrict access to sex-specific facilities in any circumstances” – they should not have that kind of power – but your ‘doublespeak’ amendment Senator, will give it to them. In support, you offer as an example the testimony of one witness, an operator of a health facility on a First Nation’s Reserve, who conveniently ignores the medical research that shows transgender (male to female) brains are the same as biological female brains. In fact, many ancient civilizations, from all over the world, once recognized transgender people for what they truly are: gifted PEOPLE – not ‘kind males’.
In addition, women who have been abused will find transgender women know exactly what they have been through – because they too are WOMEN who have been abused – that is precisely why they end up at a shelter. Perhaps the better solution is to place shelters in different buildings on the Reserve – if the avoidance of the masculine is the primary goal in the first 7-14 days in public care.
Ultimately, it is not really about whether or not the ‘male is kind’, as the director suggests – it is about treating someone as a ‘male’ – who simply ISN’T. In this case, your amendment would make it okay to victimize TWO women on a Reserve, instead of just ONE. Administrators don’t need defense and protection – actual victims of violence do.
I offer another scenario for you to consider, Senator: what would happen to a new military recruit who has not had genital surgery? Does the Commanding Officer force them into one barrack – or let them choose? What if the C.O. is transphobic – what then? What does the obvious distaste or discomfort with a transgender recruit demonstrated by ‘superior’ officers communicate to the rank and file? And what usually happens to those unique people set apart for ‘special treatment’? With your amendment, transphobic decision makers could do what they want, without consequences. This is unacceptable.
Did you know your amendment might also have the unintended consequence of making a transgender person feel pressure to undergo medical surgeries they might not otherwise consider, simply to avoid assault, or public humiliation from officials who are guaranteed impunity? I must also ask – what about passport offices, passport photos, customs screening, and all the myriad of other challenges faced by those people whose outsides don’t match their insides? Isn’t it unreasonable to expect trans*people to endure this continued undue hardship? How far would you go, Senator Plett, to protect your granddaughter from such indignities? That is how far mothers of trans*kids will go too.
And so, Senator Plett, I close this letter, with an invitation to the History Museum (formerly the Museum of Civilization) at noon on Saturday, March 28, 2015, where two moms will publicly pledge to use only the men’s public washroom, until C-279 is passed without the ‘doublespeak’ amendment. Two other mothers will join us from Toronto and Saskatoon, – pledging to do the same in their cities. Perhaps a bathroom ‘movement’ will begin – where mothers across the country will share their experience of being in a washroom where they are not comfortable, how they feel about enduring the rude comments, and the fear our kids feel – each time they are told where they must pee. We will do this, so that trans*people won’t have to.
Help us to #protectourtranskids, because we all #justneedtopee. Please revoke/rescind your ‘doublespeak’ amendment and pass C-279.
Anne Lowthian and Chris Rickert, and Charlie