Thursday, February 10, 2011

generic letter to senators re importance of bill C-389

With the passing of Bill C-389 through the third and final stage of the Canadian House of Commons, it will now move onto the Senate for review and consideration for adoption into law. If adopted, this bill will change the Canadian Human Rights Code and the Criminal Code of Canada to include 'gender identity' and 'gender expression' as grounds for human rights protection, and grounds of hate crime. It is critically important for the trans community of Canada that this Bill get passed into law as soon as possible. With this in mind, i urge everyone to contact every Senator and relay such thoughts. A list of Senators and their contact information can be found here:

Here are 98 of the 105 e-mail addresses:,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,

I have drafted up a generic letter of support. Please everyone feel free to copy, paste and edit as you see fit, and send to these Senators. They need to hear from Canadians about the importance of respecting Human Rights for all Canadians....

Dear Senator,

As I am sure you are aware, Bill C-389 passed third and final reading in the House of Commons on February 9, 2011, and will now be moved onto the Senate for debate and consideration for adoption into law.

Amidst the controversy that surrounds this Bill, I am writing as a concerned citizen of Canada to provide testimony as to the importance of adopting this Bill into law.

Prior to coming out to themselves and others, transsexual and transgendered Canadians lead what many would consider a rather normal life. Many go to school, have jobs, have a family, and make significant contributions to society. However, many are burdened with internal emotional confusion, denial, and turmoil. This often leads to depression and even suicide.

Unfortunately, the medical community in Canada has refused to recognize this for what global experts have determined it to be, a physical birth defect. Instead, transpeople are inappropriately labeled as mentally ill. In order to receive public health treatment, 7 of the 10 provinces require transpeople to under go treatment at the infamous CAM-H mental institution in Toronto, where they have often reported that they were disrespected and treated as if they were sex criminals or mentally ill fetishists, and ultimately denied a recommendation for the help that they need: hormonal and surgical treatments. These folks have gained respect even though they received no formal training on transsexualism in their education system (even as of today, there is practically no formal training on transsexualism anywhere in Canada's education system).

Once coming out, many transpeople face loss of employment, and/or challenges in finding employment. Many face rejection, ridicule, and exile from families and social circles. Many are refused public services that others take for granted, such as access to housing, insurance, and inclusion in social clubs. Many face constant verbal abuse, and on occasion, physical abuse by members of the general public.

Most of all, transpeople face a significant challenge with regards to health care. Many are refused health care products, services, and funding, both for trans-specific and non-transpacific issues. The failure of most provinces to create and implement a transsexual health protocol, leads many transpeople to find doctors who were either unwilling, or supposedly unable, to help them. The majority of health care that transpeople receive comes from private medical clinics, both in and out of Canada, and has been funded by the few dollars that they have managed to save up over the years. Even worse, many transpeople cannot afford the health care that they need, and suffer because of this.

Some have filed Human Rights complaints at the provincial level on the basis of 'sex' with regards to transphobia and trans-discrimination, and have gotten no where with said Human Rights systems. Hence, this proves clearly that without explicitly-recognized protection under 'gender identity' and 'gender expression', their rights as a transpeople are not recognized. As I believe Prime Minister Harper once said "justice delayed = justice denied".

To dispel some of the myths that have been floating around about this Bill, it should be noted that many transwomen and transmen have been using public washrooms on a regular basis, without any incident. In fact, in the many jurisdictions around the world who have already adopted 'gender identity' and/or 'gender expression' into their Human Rights legislation, not one incident of bathroom predators has been reported with regards to this matter.

While some have raised concern over the fact that definitions for gender identity and gender expression have not been clearly defined in the Bill, as Mr. Siksay has pointed out, no other term within the Human Rights Code has been explicitly defined either. He has also gone onto explain the values of allowing definitions to remain interpretable by the judicial system. Furthermore, the internationally-recognized Yogyakarta Principles have clear-cut definitions that have often been applied and adopted in global legislative and judicial settings.

Transpeople are not asking for special rights, they just want equal access to the basics of life: food, shelter, health care. Many transpeople are forced to resort to the underground community of drug dealing or sex work, in order to pay the most basic of bills. Many transpeople struggle with depression, and even suicidal thoughts, due to the stressful challenges life has given them.

Amending a piece of Human Rights legislation won't necessarily guarantee immediate societal acceptance, and it won't guarantee the elimination of discrimination, but history has shown that legislative changes has helped to persuade public perception of a variety of issues. Many people were concerned when Human Rights protection was granted to members of the gay and lesbian community, but history has shown that this addition has only done positive things for society.

Canada has often boasted a great record on health care and human rights. Sadly, Canada lags far behind dozens of other countries with regards to these matters from a transsexual context.

As this Bill now makes its way into the Senate, I ask you to please think carefully about everything I have told you about my challenging life. By allowing this Bill to pass into law, you will help all transpeople of Canada, and their societies, to take a huge leap towards acceptance. You can help build a foundation that will hopefully lead to the gradual elimination of stigma and prejudice against transpeople of Canada. You have the power to provide, for the first time, direct, indisputable human rights protection, for one of the most vulnerable, exploited, and misunderstood minority groups in the world, the trans community. You have the power to set a benchmark for which will hopefully lead to the creation and adoption of proper health care for Tran people in this country, based on global best practices. You also have the power to set the table for transsexualism to be taught in school curriculum, so that the citizens of our country can learn to be accepting of this type of diversity, and gain an understanding that tranpeople are not mentally ill or sexual fetishists.

Finally, the power is now in your hands to uphold the excellent global reputation that Canada has as apparent world leaders in health care and human rights.

If you still have any reservations about supporting this Bill, I urge you to get in touch with any number of publicly out transpeople and trans-advocate organizations around the country, so that they may provide you with first-hand details of how their lives have been negatively impacted by transphobia, and how this Bill is desperately needed.

Thank you for your time and consideration.

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