I would like to provide you with some information about my Private Memberís Bill C-389 An Act to Amend the Canadian Human Rights Act and the Criminal Code (gender identity and gender expression). This bill would add explicit human rights protection for transsexual and transgender Canadians to Canadaís human rights legislation. It would also give prosecutors and judges the ability to respond to hate crimes committed against trans people
Who are transsexual and transgender people? Transsexuals are people whose gender identity differs from their biological or birth sex, and who seek to live permanently as the gender other than their biological sex. Transgender people may live part-time or full-time as members of the other gender and they may live in a way that combines or blends genders or they may exhibit characteristics of neither gender.
Transsexual and transgender people are among the most marginalized persons in our society. They often encounter great difficulty in securing housing, employment, health care and other essential services. They also face extreme violence and sometimes even death. I believe ensuring explicit protection for transsexual and transgender people in human rights law will help establish full equality of transgender and transsexual people.
There is nothing in this bill that would allow inappropriate conduct in public washrooms nor will it change our understanding of acceptable behaviour in gendered spaces. It does not change criminal sanctions that exist for assault, sexual assault, indecency, harassment, exhibitionism or voyeurism, for example. Peeping toms or men disguised as women who enter a womenís washroom to harass or assault women or girls would still be subject to criminal charges.
The reality is that today we all share public washrooms with transsexual and transgender people. Appropriately, this is almost always an unremarkable occasion-we never know. Most of us do not enter a public washroom intending to make a determination of the gender of others using that facility. If folks go about their business appropriately it is just not an issue.
It is trans people who face danger in public washrooms where they all too often have been assaulted, insulted, and denied access. This is a serious problem that demands our attention. Transgender and transsexual people should be safe and should be able to go about the activities of daily living without fear or discrimination.
The experience of other jurisdictions where similar human rights protections have been implemented has shown that washroom use has not been an issue. There is no evidence of increased criminal activity in any jurisdiction that has moved in this direction.
I hope that no matter what your understanding of gender identity and expression you will agree that discrimination against trans people has no place in Canadian society.