Friday, January 01, 2010

Canadian Trans Rights Bill C-389 Moving Towards Debate

I talked a few months ago about Canadian MP Bill Siksay filing a private member's bill May 15 that would add “gender identity” and “gender expression” to the list of protected classes in the Canadian Human Rights Act and the Criminal Code of Canada.

Well, thanks to the action alert from Mercedes Allen, it looks like the legislative process is finally beginning to percolate around MP Siksay's Bill C-389 and it is about to come up for debate.

NDP Party critic on Canadian Heritage, housing and Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender and Transsexual issues Bill Siksay is one of the few openly gay members of the Canadian Parliament and has represented the diverse Burnaby-Douglas riding in the Vancouver, BC area since 2004.

This is also the third attempt he's made to get Bill C-389 passed.

If C-389 passes, this would be a groundbreaking legislative win for our north of the border trans cousins.

As MP Siksay stated during the first reading of Bill C-389:

The bill will add gender identity and gender expression to the list of prohibited grounds of discrimination in the Canadian Human Rights Act and to the Criminal Code sections regarding hate crimes and sentencing provisions, providing explicit protection for transgender and transsexual Canadians from discrimination in all areas of federal jurisdiction.

Transsexual and transgender Canadians face significant prejudice in their daily lives. Whether it is job discrimination, access to housing and public services, especially health care, problems with identity documents, difficulties with law enforcement officials, a high suicide rate, or the increased likelihood that they will be victims of violence, the situation of transsexual and transgender people demands our attention.

The bill would give transsexual and transgender Canadians direct access to the protections provided for in the Canadian Human Rights Act and the Criminal Code of Canada that they so urgently need.

I look forward to seeing the bill debated this fall in the next round of private members' business. Given that transgender and transsexual folks are members of our families, our friends, our co-workers, and our neighbours, I hope this measure will find support in all corners of the House.

If you live in the 'Great White North', time to get busy writing, e-mailing or calling your MP and respectfully asking them to support C-389. This is an 'all hands on deck' project that the entire Canadian TBLG community and their allies can and should enthusiastically get behind as well.

And don't stop with just the MP's. Write the party leaders as well such as the Liberals Michael Ignatieff, the NDP's Jack Layton, Gilles Duceppe of the Bloc Quebecois and Elizabeth May of the Green Party.

And if you happen to be a Conservative with progressive leanings, write the 'Sweater Vest' as well. After all, he is the Prime Minister.

Mercedes also noted that since Prime Minister Stephen Harper and much of the leadership ranks hail from conservative Alberta, it will be critically important for GLBT Albertans to make sure they make their voices heard with their MP's about their support for the passage of C-389.

Here's a link to the NDP Party website to get you started. If you don't know who your MP is, here's the link to the Canadian Parliament website in which all you'll have to do is type in your postal code to discover who your MP is.

As I continue to point out, the fight for transgender rights is a worldwide struggle. Any positive success anywhere on the planet helps me and my peeps in the States and other locales. It's why I'm very interested in what transpires in Canada with Bill C-389.

While we transgender Americans and our allies will pretty much be on the sidelines in cheerleader mode for this one, in light of the fact that ENDA is still awaiting action on this side of the border, we'll be extremely interested observers as the potentially historic C-389 bill makes its way through Parliament.

We'll also be praying that the third time is indeed the charm in terms of this bill becoming law in the Great White North.

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