Marginal Among the Marginal

Transgender and transsexual people do NOT have formal human rights anywhere in Canada except for North West Territories; that NWT does was one of Egale Canada’s most spectacular, if little known, lobbying successes.

This seems to be common misinformation since same-sex marriage became the law of the land–Canadians for Equal Marriage made this error in its last press release; the Ottawa Pride Committee made this same error in its Official Pride Guide at the same time.

All these organizations certainly ought to know better.

An argument can be made that having sexual orientation in federal, provincial and territorial human rights law is meaningless–but I have not heard that message very clearly articulated. Nor have I ever heard any call for removing sexual orientation from these laws.

This is significantly worse for the most marginal of “LGBTQ people in Canada” (no formal human rights is fundamental evidence of this greater marginalization) than the usual silence as it persuades those who might otherwise join in the struggle there is no longer any need.

And it casts those of us who have long been deeply concerned with this and stood up for our human rights–as gay and lesbian people long have and long been our inspiration–as crazy liars and “justifiably” silenced.

It is difficult to understand how one who has signed a letter of support for Toby’s Law–Cheri di Novi’s private member’s bill in the Ontario Legislature to add gender identity to the Ontario Human Rights Code–could make this casual error.

After the purges of transactivists from committees–and expulsion from membership–the secret abolition of the Trans Issues Committee, the retreat from the federal jurisdiction and abandonment of long standing policy to lobby for the amendment of the Canadian Human Rights Act to include gender identity and gender expression and abandonment of the policy to bring over the supporters of same-sex marriage to support this, what are the transgender and transsexual people of Canada to believe about Egale Canada, its staff and Board of Directors?

What are all those whose commitment to equality and dignity for all is profound and steadfast to think?

Is it really so inconvenient and divisive to acknowledge that gender identity and gender expression ARE different from sexual orientation, that they have no necessary connection to sexual orientation and that the message must be different and must be just as loud, clear and long lasting as the message, and the struggle that followed from it, that placed sexual orientation into legislation–and for precisely the same reasons?

I have always wondered why Egale Canada has never had the political will to work with transgender and transsexual people to craft this message and work with us on this necessary long term struggle..

We have watched virtually all American LGB, LGBT, and T organizations come out loudly and proudly from an inclusive ENDA because of their profound belief that T’s are not parasites on the work of the G’s and L’s, but have been part of the same movement from the beginning and that there is no true equality while some of us remain excluded because it is just inconvenient to include us.

(Except for the Human Rights Campaign.)

Can we as Canadians do any less? It certainly seems so.

Two-Thirds Of Canadian LGBT Students Feel Unsafe At Schoolhttp://www.365gay.com/Newscon08/05/051208bul.htm

“We may have human rights for LGBTQ people in Canada, but you’d never know it based on these results,” said Helen Kennedy, executive director of Egale.

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