26 February 2015

Perhaps Senator Plett Should Move To Florida

I have long thought that Canadians are more sensible people than we (well, some of us, anyway) are in the US.  They legalized same-sex marriage and got rid of slavery before we did.  And, while I'm sure there's bigotry north of our border, it didn't seem to taint social policy or civil discourse--not to mention politics--as often as it does in my home country.

But, it seems, they're not completely immune to our insanity.  

Yesterday, the Canadian Senate passed Bill C-279, which adds gender identity to Canada's Human Rights Act.  Here in the US, there are still states in which someone can be fired from a job or evicted from housing simply for being  transgender (or, for that matter, lesbian or gay).  Ironically, in some of those states, same-sex marriage is legal--at least technically, for the moment, due to statutes against the practice being declared unconstitutional by Federal judges.  So, in such an environment, it's not much of a surprise that no one has even introduced a bill to protect the rights of trans people nationwide.

So, given what I've said, the fact that C-279 passed the Senate makes Canada look like a progressive country, doesn't it?  Well, there's a catch:  Just before the vote, Conservative Senator Donald Plett added an amendment mandating that people can use only those public facilities (like washrooms and crisis centers) designated for their "biological" gender.

He claims that his amendment is a "public safety issue".  He explains his rationale for his amendment thusly:  "The issue I have is that many elements of society are separated based on sex and not on gender — shelters, change rooms, bathrooms, even sports teams. They are not separated based on internal feelings but on sex, physiological and anatomical differences".  (Italics mine)

Hmm...You have to use facilities designated by your biological sex.  And which facilities you should use should be determined by anatomy.  Where have you heard that self-contradicting argument before?

Well, if you read the Huffington Post, you might have seen an article I wrote.  In it, I show how Frank Artiles, a Republican in the Florida House of Representatives, makes the same arguments, almost verbatim, to introduce a bill that would do, essentially, the same things as the amendment to C-279.  He, like Senator Plett, introduced legislation saying that people must use public facilities according to their birth (They both use the word "biological" instead, probably because it sounds more scientific or is simply longer.) sex.  Then they say that anatomy should determine where we pee.  And they claim that their legislation is intended for "public safety".

As best as I can tell, about the only difference between Plett and Artiles is that the latter claims that his actions are motivated by his Christian faith, while Plett doesn't mention his religious beliefs, whether or not he has any.

I know that lots of Canadians have moved to Florida.  Perhaps Plett should, too.  

25 February 2015

Her Family Behind Her

Some commentators are calling this the "transgender moment" of history.  Bruce Jenner is transitioning, and TV shows and movies have transgender characters--portrayed by trans people.  I have found that revealing my identity doesn't raise eyebrows the way it did even a few years ago.

Perhaps the best thing about all of this is high-profile parents and grandparents can publicly support a child's or grandchild's transition.  Congressman Mike Honda of California has recently tweeted that his 8-year-old grandchild Brody is becoming Malisa.  And his daughter, Michelle Honda-Philips, has often "stayed up into the wee hours" researching transgender issues as she watched her asked for ballet lessons and permission to wear a pink tutu and carry a "Hello Kitty" lunchbox.  

Because of her work, and her observation that her child is "insistent, persistent and consistent" in expressing her female identity, she decided to support her transition because, as the elder Honda said, "It's not a phase."

One sign that it isn't is that Malisa is not only attending school as a girl, she's also on its anti-bullying committee.  You might say that she's already become her mother, who also campaigns against bullying.


24 February 2015

New State Department Envoy for LGBT Rights

Normally, I am skeptical when the government--or, for that matter, any other organization--creates a new post with an impressive-sounding title.  But on the matter of which I'm going to write, I'll give the Obama administration the benefit of the doubt.

On Monday, the Department of State named Randy Berry its first-ever envoy charged with advocating globally for the human rights of LGBT people.

In this new role, Berry is responsible for advancing government initiatives to reduce violence and discrimination against LGBT people around the world.  In that capacity, he will also be able to use the State Department's Global Equity Fund, created in 2011 to provide short- and long-term help in protecting and advancing the human rights of LGBT communities in countries where there are particularly severe laws and sanctions against them.

Even if I weren't trans, I would think (or, at least, I would like to think that I would think) that the new position makes sense, given that such issues as women's rights have been getting more attention and that, really, you can't talk about gender equality without LGBT equality.