On Wednesday the Canadian House of Commons approved a bill that would make it illegal to discriminate against transgender people. The bill passed without the support of Prime Minister Stephen Harper, but eighteen Conservatives, including four cabinet members, joined with the opposition New Democrats and others to pass the third reading of the bill 149-137. The private member's bill was sponsored by New Democrat MP Randall Garrison.
Canadian Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird has been pressing for LGBT rights in his travels abroad. Baird, Finance Minister Jim Flaherty, Labour Minister Lisa Raitt, and Heritage Minister James Moore split with Harper to support passage.
Today, New Democrats are proud to have contributed to ensuring equal protection under the law from discrimination and hatred based on gender identity.
Transgender and transsexual citizens are among the most marginalized and are too often victims of harassment and acts of violence.
After passing second reading with the support of 15 Tories and another 9 abstaining, there were complaints that the bill was too vague in the definitions of "gender identity" and "gender expression". Garrison removed the term "gender expression" in an attempt at compromise.
Both sides of this debate should agree that equality and protection against harm are two fundamental values that all Canadians of any gender, any age, any background are entitled to.
However, as legislators we are also tasked with deciding if the proposed legislation is sound. Given the lack of clarity that I found in the bill, I do have concern about its viability.
Conservative MP Michelle Rempel, earlier this month
As usual other Conservatives opposed the bill on the grounds that pedophiles would be protected when they lurked in public bathrooms. A petition opposed to "the bathroom bill" was presented before the vote, tabled by Calgary MP Rob Anders.
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.
The bill adds gender identity to federal anti-discrimination and anti-hate legislation. It was supported by the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal.
The bill now goes to the Senate, which is not an elected body, and is expected to be approved.
Our efforts represent a huge step forward but there is still much work to be done to ensure equal access for Trans Canadians to simple services like health care, housing and jobs.
We must continue to act on this important issue and, now that the bill has passed through the House of Commons, we urge the Senate to move quickly to guarantee the same rights and protections for transsexual, transgender and gender-variant Canadians that all of us enjoy.
I wish we could say that we had similar progress in this country. Instead one of these United States is striving to make it illegal for a transperson, even post-surgery, to use a public restroom in that state. And it won't just be transgender people who will have to have a birth certificate on their person proving they belong in the restroom they use. Every person in the state will have to carry their birth certificate in case someone challenges them.
Failure to have that sort of proof would result in 6 months in jail and a $2500 fine.
I'd love to see someone challenge the bill's sponsor, Rep. John Kavanaugh, the next time he uses a public restroom.
This law simply restores the law of society: Men are men and women are women. For a handful of people to make everyone else uncomfortable just makes no sense.
On the other hand, one person, Mr. Kavanaugh, has granted himself the right to make thousands of people uncomfortable because of his Neanderthal thinking.
And he thinks that's okay.
The "Show Me Your Papers Before You Go Potty" bill was scheduled for a vote on Wednesday but the debate was delayed because of a "paperwork error".
Most transgender people try to slip through public places without being noticed. This will turn us into criminals.
No one should have to live in a world where they have to show their papers to pee.
--Masen Davis, Transgender Law Center
Columnist Laurie Roberts and digital opinions editor Joanna Allhands of azcentral.com voice their opinions in the following video: