Gender Prison: "story-telling, mythmaking, and fear mongering"

It's a socially conservative women's group. They support "the values of traditional family and marriage." Yada, yada. One can infer that the "REAL women" is "as opposed to feminists."

Not that they are not opposed to transwomen…they truly are. But they are not opposed to only us.

So currently there is a bill (C-279) before the Canadian Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights which would extend the specific protection of the Canadian Human Rights Code on the basis of gender identity and gender expression and additionally add those categories to the criteria for hate crimes.

REAL Women of Canada is sending (as I write this. By now, it is "has sent") a researcher to testify today. There was a written submission prepared ahead of time.

It is for the purposes of response to that submission that we rise today.

The "researcher", named Diane Watts (not to be confused with the mayor of Surrey, BC with nearly the same name), when writing about "rights-seeking activists dealing with gender identity and gender expression" claims that this includes pedophiles.

Beyond special rights, many demand ‘recognition and acceptance. These (groups) and further categories would fall under the umbrella of ‘gender identity’ and ‘gender expression’ and this includes pedophilia, as pedophilia activists are already agitating for recognition, demanding that their sexual orientation be legally and socially accepted.

--REAL Women of Canada submission

The ugly…it burns!

Let's compare that statement with the following from the sponsor of C-279 at the opening its consideration in committee:

Mr. Speaker, today I rise to recognize November 20 as Transgender Day of Remembrance. People in communities across Canada and around the world will gather today to remember victims of transphobic violence and to dedicate themselves to working to end discrimination against transgender, transsexual and gender variant people.
Last year, more than 265 transpeople were murdered and countless others were victims of violence and discrimination. Not only are transCanadians more likely to be victims of hate crimes, those hate crimes are more than twice as likely to be violent. This year, the list of those murdered includes the tragic loss of January Marie Lapuz, a transwoman in B.C.
However, in Canada, we are beginning to turn this tide. Consideration of Bill C-279, which would protect transgender rights in Canada, begins in the justice committee today. As well, legislation was just introduced this morning in the Nova Scotia legislature that will add Nova Scotia to the Northwest Territories, Ontario and Manitoba as jurisdictions where trans rights are explicitly protected. We should all be proud to see Canada assuming a leadership role on this issue of equal rights.
On this Transgender Day of Remembrance let us continue to make progress in ensuring that in Canada trans rights are human rights.

--Randall Garrison, riding of Esquimalt-Juan de Fuca, BC

As you might imagine, the submission has drawn response.

We’re pretty clear at this point that being lesbian, gay, bisexual or trans has nothing whatsoever to do with pedophilia. The overwhelming majority of pedophiles are typically-gendered, heterosexual men. There’s really no question about that and it’s a really, very ugly, nasty slur.

If the only people who are going to oppose the bill are people who are this much in favour of discrimination, I think it says something about how clearly we need to pass this bill.

--Hershell Russell, psychotherapist and transman

Hershell calls it what it is, "ugly, straightforward discrimination."

[A] child's risk of being molested by his or her relative's heterosexual partner is 100 times greater than by someone who might be identified as a homosexual.

--Carole Jenny, MD, Head of the Division of Child Maltreatment at Brown University, in a 1994 Pediatrics article titled "Are Children at Risk for Sexual Abuse by Homosexuals?"

Russell took issue with other parts of the submission as well, such as the group's claim that transpeople should receive treatment for "emotional and psychological problems" rather than medical care and support for transition. Russell pointed out that the Canadian Medical Association, the American Medical Association, and all major psychological and psychiatric associations disagree with that stance. While the rates of suicide are high for transpeople, the rates only stay high for those who have not received proper treatment and support for their transition, at which time the suicide rates conform to that of the general population.

Susan Gapka, transgender activist and public policy expert, said while it was painful to read the connection the group claims to pedophilia, the group's argument as expressed in its submission was so bad as to trigger her laugh mechanism."

It's fiction. It's an example of story-telling, mythmaking and fear mongering.

The REAL women also claim, of course, that allowing transpeople to use the restroom of their choice puts women and children at risk of sexual assault. Gapka notes how little sense this makes, pointing out that there are no laws and no guards to stop people any people from entering a women's washroom today.

When people hear that these are the opposition arguments to giving us the rights in the bill, they will see just how ridiculous these claims are. This type of submission from REAL Women or other groups who use that sort of tactic indicates why explicit, clear, human rights protection for transsexual and transgendered people is indeed necessary and long overdue.


Although the "testimony"will be laughable, Gapka notes, "This is very harmful. Some community members find this very harmful and very hateful."

Ivy Black is a 17-year-old Toronto student who came out as transgender a little over a year ago. She says that the REAL Woman submission shows that the group doesn't know anything about transgender people and has never met one of us.

As a transperson, as a woman, I just want to be accepted and understood as a person equal to everyone else in Canada.

I can kind of see where they’re coming from in upholding traditional family values and gender roles in the sense of ‘if it isn’t broken, don’t fix it,’—except that it is broken for many different individuals, and it’s becoming increasingly irrelevant to society. We need to get beyond these labels, politically, have equal individual rights.

Just because you’re giving individual rights to trans people, to protect them from harassment, that doesn’t lead to allowing people to do clearly unethical things to children.

The Canadian government recognizes marriage as a relationship between two consenting adults and I don’t think that’s going to change and that’s not the issue at hand. It’s just something they’re using to demonize the trans community and the bill itself.


Joanne Law, transgender activist from Ottawa, who will be attending the meeting, said she is not surprised at the REAL Women submission.

Not anymore. I’m surprised they will say it in the House of Commons.

They can abuse us, and they can abuse us inside the House of Commons and we can’t do a damn thing about it.





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In this country...

Robyn's picture

...recent progress was made as the Syracuse City Council passed civil rights protections based on gender identity and expression this past week. The law, which still needs the signature of the mayor, which is expected, "prohibits discrimination in employment, public accommodations, housing, school, commercial space and public services." Syracuse becomes the tenth New York municipality to adopt civil equality for transpeople. The state of New York has yet to do so, so that makes local action even more important.

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Well, we do.

Robyn's picture


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