International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia (IDAHOT)
The 2015 Global theme for International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia is LGBT Youth.
This past year I have personally heard from 3 friends who have Trans children who are facing Transphobia within their own school systems. Fighting for their child’s right to be safe and secure when attending school and in particular doing something we take for granted, using the bathroom. Being a kid is difficult enough, being a Lesbian, Gay or Bisexual kid is even more difficult, but being a Trans kid… well it is a whole different ball game.
Education and Understanding goes a long way to fight Homophobia and Transphobia, so let’s first take a look at some terminology.
What is Homophobia?
Homophobia refers to a fear and hatred of gays and lesbians. Homophobia ranges from derogatory comments, to harassment, to violence (gay bashing), to silencing (‘as long as they don’t talk about it’, etc.) to denial of human rights. Homophobia is also described as the fear of feeling love for members of one’s own sex, and therefore the hatred of those feelings in others.
What is Transphobia?
Transphobia is the unrealistic or irrational fear and hatred of cross-dressers, transsexuals and transgender people. Like all prejudices, it is based on negative stereotypes and misconceptions that are then used to justify and support hatred, discrimination, harassment and violence towards Trans people.
A lot of people harbour phobias towards Trans persons. This is for many reasons but it isn’t helped by the media reporting on the Conservative amendments of Bill C-279, sensationalizing the bill and perverting it from its true intention. Instead they are focusing and misinforming the public if the bill passed as it was written it would allow for men to prey on women and children in the women’s washrooms. The “men” they are referring to are not men at all, that they are purposely misgendering trans people to further their political aims.
Bill C-279 as original written, has been before Parliament for years now and essentially is asking for wording to be added to the Canadian Human Rights Act to protect Trans people of Canada. The conservative government is largely playing on the fears of the Canadians who do not understand what this bill is actually seeking. The government is hoping to convince the general public that this would be disastrous for the Canadian public if it went through. Ironically they are trying to detract from the simple fact that Transphobia exists, as they are clearly demonstrating Transphobia themselves. They are trying to distract from the fact that Human Rights for Trans people needs to be included and protected under the Canadian Human Rights Act.
To help show how absurd it is that they government is seeking to amend the Bill to have Trans people use the bathroom of the gender they were born. Below are pictures from the United States where in several states the law says they must use the bathrooms of their birth gender.
Now I ask you, who is more at risk here? Does it not make sense to allow people to use the bathroom they are most comfortable in? Where they wouldn’t be at risk for verbal or physical abuse by others who use those washrooms?
In 2013 in the Treasury Board TC Group Bargaining Team fought for and won the inclusion of Gender Identity and Expression under the No Discrimination Clause of their collective agreement. The current bargaining groups are working on getting the same language included. As a union we are taking steps to make this right for our Trans members while we wait for the government to pass this bill. We also need your voices to your MPs to scrap the “bathroom” amendment and put bill C-279 through as originally intended.
As for the “bathroom” issue; sometimes people just really need to pee, there is no ulterior motive.
Let’s work together to make a better, safer and more inclusive Canada for our LGBT youth.
“All young people, regardless of sexual orientation or identity, deserve a safe and
supportive environment in which to achieve their full potential.” ― Harvey Milk
I look forward to any questions or feedback on this article. I have given lunch and learns on the International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia in conjunction with employers, the PSAC and local resources and would be happy to help you do something similar if you wish within your own local workplaces. Contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org