The Big G


When I was very young, my mother took me to music lessons–specifically eurythmics–at the Royal Conservatory of Music of Toronto downtown. Often, she took me home by taxi. On our way I often saw a big building with a big “G” on its side.

I asked her what that was. She told me it was the Granite Club. A place with gyms, swimming pool, all sorts of things that fascinated me. But, she told me, I could never join. Why? I asked. Because you’re father is a Jew.

It was, I believe, my first experience with prejudice and marginalization. I’m not sure how I felt about that since there were other “communities” I could belong to. Not least of which was the group of people I spent several years with going to eurythmics lessons.

The old Conservatory building was at College and University and when we got there early enough on one special Saturday morning in December, I got to watch the Santa Claus parade from a special place with special friends.

I don’t know if it has changed, at all, in the forty years since my mother told me I was barred.

In recent days, I was reminded of this childhood experience and how much things have changed when reading of Capital Xtra’s–Ottawa’s gay and lesbian only newspaper–annual community hero awards.

In Ottawa, where I live, there is really no trans community–unlike, say, Toronto, Montreal or Vancouver–and no community publication. I have written about Capital Xtra before–and the two times I have been denounced, by name, for daring to stand up for those most marginal in, well, not our community, since there isn’t one community but for those more marginal in society than gay and lesbian people as a class–trans and bi people.

I was even denounced for suggesting that since trans people don’t have explicit human rights and hate crime protections our status is different from gay and lesbian people who do. There is no difference, no hierarchy of oppression, I was admonished–we are all the same.

This after the entire community was convulsed with the human rights of gay and lesbian people for a generation–not incorrectly–until they were formally recognized in the late 90’s and with gay marriage in the 00’s until 2005/2006.

While working for Canadians for Equal Marriage in 2005, I was admonished by its national coordinator, Alex Munter, not to mention trans and bi people. We were, apparently, to benefit under the table, almost as if we were too embarrassing, too shameful to be mentioned.

Now, as Munter declared, as I have cited,

there are no second-class Canadians, lesbian, gay, bi and trans people are full members of the community, without caveat or exceptions

Now, the consensus of the Egale Canada email list is that an LGBT rights organizations, as Egale now bills itself, cannot be concerned with the issues of one subset of LGBT. Yet, to this day, the only issues it is concerned with are those of gay/lesbian people–all those who “are covered by the Canadian Human Rights Act.” This, of course, remains the question for transpeople who remain uncovered.

The arguments have changed since I was purged from my committees and expelled as a member, but the outcomes remain precisely the same.

Plus ca change. . . . .

I know several people who are nominated for awards, including lifetime achievement Capital Xtra awards, and I believe they do deserve recognition for their contribution, not just to gay and lesbian people, but also to the remainder of GLBT people.

My own history with the CapX awards goes back to 2005 when I was nominated–but lost to a lesbian (I was the only transperson nominated)–to 2006 when the president of an agency I volunteered for promised I would be nominated, but the staffperson who was charged with actually nominating me never quite realized there was a deadline–the other people he was charged with nominating were nominated by others.

In 2006, I was the subject of a Carleton Journalism School video documentary which captured my despair at not being included. There has been much exclusion from their community.

But there are at least two tactics people I know have used to be included. They might not even think of them as tactics, but from my perspective there certainly seem so.

One, I will call the MW tactic.

For a transperson, all they have to do is identify only as a gay/lesbian person, work primarily for gay/lesbian issues. I can think of several people who benefit from this, who have achieved positions and recognitions I have not been accepted for because I am unable to abandon my advocacy–as a transperson.

This conforms to the adage at Egale Canada that it is “inconvenient, divisive and ultimately unnecessary” to advocate for transpeople because they will eventually come out as gay or lesbian–and those issues that are exclusive to transpeople, like human rights, health access, etc, will no longer be necessary.

Now, not all those who have benefited from the MW tactic have completely abandoned trans issues and they are arguably in a stronger position because their identity as transpeople is obscured–but I, myself, cannot do this.

The other tactic, I’ll call the SB tactic, involves declaring oneself queer, possibly involved in a queer relationship–so being trans is also no longer “necessary.” I have actually toyed with doing this.

This tactic, like the MW tactic, leaves anything for transpeople to be dismissed as simply something for one subset of LGBT.

Again, not all those who adopt this tactic have completely abandoned transpeople, but from my perspective it leaves trans issues open to dismissal.

I never really belonged to any group growing up, we moved almost every year I was in high school–and of course, being trans all my life, in a generation long before now, I didn’t even have the words until rather recently, though I always had the need, desire and necessity. I was, as all male-bodied transpeople of my generation were/are deathly–and not unreasonably–afraid of being found out.

In recent years, there have been so many places I thought I might belong to, that my very real gifts might be useful if not welcomed: where I worked, where I might played, where I volunteered.

In recent years, I have had a large hope list; most, but not all entries have ended on my hopeless list.

Before me there is another large structure which also has a big “G” on it.

This time the “G” means “GAY.”

As usual in my life, there is no room here either; I will, as I have so often done before, have to build my own.

UPDATE: I have received a comment from SB regarding my comments above. I’m not sure about posting it because, as with a number of comments to my posts, it seems more of a personal email not for publication–this could change.

My reference to both the MW and SB tactics has come out of recent re-reading of Viviane Namaste for a short paper I’m preparing for a social work course at Carleton University here in Ottawa.

(Not something yet of great importance, I do hope to be full time in the School of Social Work in the fall; social work seems to be a discipline and body of knowledge–and a profession, though that is itself problematic in some quarters–where I can use just about all of what I have long referred to as my eccentric and eclectic backround that does not readily find a home anywhere else, BIG G or no.)

Namaste has been a trenchant critic of Egale Canada, particularly in the essay Against Transgender Rights in her 2005 book, Sex Change, Social Change: Reflections on identity, institutions and Imperialism (Women’s Press: Toronto)

She names former Executive Director John Fisher and some of the very projects I have lauded elsewhere from a very critical perspective. Not least of which the Egale Canada project on which I have worked, which it has long since abandoned, to add gender identity to the Canadian Human Rights Act.

My own contribution to this project was the addition to gender expression.

Not incorrectly, she obseves on the “distinctness” of Quebec and the effect of this (those possibly not these) additions to the act on Quebec–preferring rather the concept of “civil status” which has applicability in the civil code jurisdiction that is Quebec–unlike the rest of Canada which is a common law jurisdiction.

Recently, I have come to the conclusion the addition of social condition to the Canadian Human Rights Act–as defined in the Quebec Charter of Rights and Freedoms–as recommended by the Canadian Human Rights Act Review Panel–is necessary.

The majority Liberal Government of 2000 took no action on this–nor on the recommendation to add gender identity to the Act, either.

To return to Namaste, her point, as I simply can no longer disagree, is that the everyday/everynight (as Christopher Shelley puts it) life of transsexual people is not enhanced by an approach through the issues of sexual orientation–Namaste also refers to the prism of feminism in this manner which is something I’m not yet confident of.

My concern with the MW approach, as I think I made clear above, is that it reduces the status of transsexual people–which MW is, though many years post-op–to a secondary concern. This even as a recent consensus on the main Egale Canada email list–no subset of GLBT can be addressed; only those issues common to all can be advocated.

This simply conforms to the ideology, dominant since at least 2002, that issues of sexual orientation are common issues. The inevitable result is that issues of gender identity/expression, such as formal human rights recognition and amending of the Criminal Code are no longer on the Egale Canada agenda.

Curiously, Egale Canada’s Executive Director still spoke at the past conference of the Canadian Profession Association on Transgender Health as I have written about here.

When transsexual people completely assimilate as gay/lesbian people, their personal advocacy changes. This must be accepted from an individual standpoint, but from the perspective of transsexual people it is problematic.

And it is not something I myself can do–though this is not without conflict.

I would argue this is qualitatively different from Namaste’s, and many transsexual people’s, concern to become part of the larger heterosexual, cissexual society.

The MW tactic allows for the activist to take positions in current or formerly gay/lesbian organizations as the “transsexual” spokesperson or simply as a gay/lesbian person. (Presumably a sufficient reason why I have never been accepted for such a position–or award.)

The SB tactic is more troubling–at least for me personally.

It includes–as I see it–on gender expression, particularly–an argument (which I have completely adopted) that it covers not only transsexual and transgender people, but also gay/lesbian/cissexual people and heterosexual/cissexual people.

It is a necessary advocacy, not only from an ethical standpoint, but also from one of practical politics–to create the largest coalition posssible.

This is why I listened with some concern to Bill Siksay, just before the ill-conceived Economic Update, on the possibility of dropping gender expression from his project to amend the Human Rights Act and the Criminal Code.

I cavil at the calls to diminish the status of issues of gender identity, whether from the perspective that it is secondary to issues of sexual orientation or even issues of gender expression.

When this conflates with concerns of personal advocacy–and inevitably personal status–I seethe.

Maybe this is only practical politics–not something I have been good at.

But for the larger goal of bringing transsexual people from the margins to the mainstream–admittedly terminology I learned while working at Canadians for Equal Marriage–which includes access to medical and social services as well as the public education that will bring attention to the lives and struggles of transsexual people, including addictions and incarceration, as well as sex work there must be no retreating from issues of gender identity.

The path through BIG G does not lead even to the possibility of coalitions with equality seeking groups, regardless of the rhetoric of the past seven years at Egale Canada. Egale Canada remains an organization for middle-class, middle-age, Caucasian gay/lesbian/cisgender people.

I simply do not yet see the new structure, though some building blocks are not new. There is a room in the evolving blueprint where I hope to make a home.

I also work for many other rooms for those who can truly share issues of gender identity.

UPDATE II: It seems that wordpress posted SB’s comment without my actually approving it–or so I thought. Recent upgrades have been more than a bit of a pain.

My blog picture was lost.

And, despite numerous tries, including a confirming email, I have been quite unable to change the email to which admin things are sent.

So I guess, my hope for a professional looking and functioning blog will elude me for the time being.

UPDATE III: I have posted both of Shannon’s comments.

I believe adding gender identity and gender expression to Chapter 15 is among the most important things that can be done for transsexual and transgender people.

I also believe adding social condition as defined in the Quebec Charter of Rights and Freedoms at least to the Canadian Human Rights Act–as recommended by the Canadian Human Rights Act Review Panel–is equally important.  If not to Chapter 15 also.

The expectation is that, helping all marginalized persons, will also help, as Namaste and others have pointed out, the vast majority of transsexual people who will not benefit from a human rights strategy as currently conceived.

I remain convinced that a two-pronged approach is necessary; that is, including BOTH a human rights perspective–with social condition–and a services approach.

Namaste has pointed out the latter is not particularly glamorous. From my own experience I know it can be quite unpleasant.

UPDATE IV: Shannon has posted further comments.

It is interesting that we have always converged on core arguments.

I welcome the opportunity to consult on this or any initiative for transsexual and transgender people.

UPDATE V: This is becoming something of a marathon!

I’m beginning to think Shelley and Namaste are indispensable to an understanding of the challenges we face in the world–as persons, as bodies.

Erasure is the relatively long accepted ‘governing’ notion of our lives, particularly with respect to institutions–and organizations such as Egale Canada.

But, for me, there was a piece missing from the argument.

The missing piece, I believe, is provided by Shelley’s notion of “repudiation.” There is a foundation that must be in place before we get to both erasure and transphobic violence.

It fulfils, as well, the missing piece in the Egale diktat of “inconvenient, divisive and ultimately unnecessary” and the current consensus on its main email list that no “subset” of LGBT can be addressed–only issues of common interest. These, by definition, are issues of sexual orientation.

This is the way I now conceptualize the challenges to our bodily existence.

There is, however, a quite apposite cite from the Stryker book–which I use to ground all of this:

Because most people have great difficulty recognizing the humanity of another person if they cannot recognize that person’s gender, the gender-changing person can evoke in others a primordial fear of monstrosity, or loss of humanity.

–Stryker, Transgender History, p. 6

Once, this was applicable to gay/lesbian people, too.

Stryker’s history, like her film, “Screaming Queens,” is important in addressing those who allege we are parasites on their movement. It is not that much “lighter-weight.”

Though, from our perspective, Shannon, I believe, there is something of a category error in this quote.

I would me much happier if there were some reference to sex-changing–though we didn’t really change sex. It was only an appearance–though for far too many this appearance is what evokes what Stryker refers to.

And is on the range of responses Shelley refers to.

I would classify being hit on the head by a fire extinguisher, as Allen Andrade killed Angie Zapate this summer in Colorado, as transphobic violence.

To return to “repudiation,” it seems to me much like something I remember from political science and international affairs: sometimes governments, even like our own, though more vividly when one group/class/party violently overthrows another, they refuse to accept the debts, politics, commitments of the previous one.

The most common usage is “It repudiates the debt of the previous regime.”

The refusal to accept our claims to being either mis-sexed, mis-gendered, or both, is the foundation.

The arguments at Egale Canada have changed–at least as represented by those, including those who comments I have long respected, on the Egale email list.

But the repudiation remains the same.

I have been accused of alleging transphobia. but this is a word I have never used. Why would I need something that strong to address something subtle and pervasive?

Something that cissexual/cisgender privilege so conveniently obscures.

It is always inconvenient and divisive to aknowledge privilege–and from the perspective of those who hold it, ultimately unnecessary.

UPDATE VI: There is absolutely nothing wrong with a marathon. On the contrary, most things worthwhile in life, both intrinsically and extrinsically, have qualities of a marathon.

I have found this one quite interesting and stimulating.

Regarding the tragic life of David Reimer, there is an interesting, and surprisingly understandable, essay by Judith Butler on it–Doing Justice to Someone: Sex Reassignment and Allegories of Transsexuality in Undoing Gender.

For some reason over the holidays I decided to read, and comprehend as much as I could, of Butler.

As usual, she approaches her point(s) from different perspectives, almost as if she is making multiple metaphors of the same phenomenon–I guess this is one reason why it is called literary theory.

Her governing metaphor in this essay is the Kafka rather long short story “In A Penal Colony.”

Her large concern is with the way the Law of the Father/the Symbolic/whatever is inscribed upon us. Akin to the execution machine in the Kafka piece which inscribes the law the Accused broke all over his body as it kills him with needles.

Truly a lesson learned.

We can clearly understand how John Money’s theories were inscribed upon Reimer’s body, but Butler also makes the case that Milton Diamond’s were also–that, in diamond’s view, the Y gene is sufficient to make Reimer male.

What further blew my mind was to realize Reimer’s youth as a “girl” was the inspiration for an episode of Law & Order: Special Victims Unit. There was, of course, no murder in his historical youth, but this is the necessary key to any Law & Order episode. (And I’m a long time aficionado.)

Money’s theories required Reimer and his (I use the male throughout because I take him, regardless of what was done to him and his apparent gender expression and identity, to be male throughout) brother to act out scenes of stereotypical gender/sex roles. As Butler recounts.

I didn’t know this.

The rage Butler describes seems more than reasonable in the situation–as in the dramatization. Butler uses this to make part of her point. She goes further to use the next phase of Reimer’s life, under the influence of Diamond, as further example of the inscription of gender.

This diverges from the path most transsexual people take from this tragedy.

Butler’s central point is that–as best as I read her–gender is part of the way the/our subject comes into existence and there is no “I”–I’m sure I’m getting some of this incorrectly–without gender.

There is no existence, ontologically or linguistically, before or after gender. Gender, however, is always performed and, as such, is susceptible to change in its repetitions–particularly in a comedic way.

Her view moderated in Undoing Gender from Gender Trouble.

But there is a disturbing postscript to this essay in which Butler declares:

It is difficult to know what, in the end, made his life unlivable or why this life was one he felt was time to end.

–Butler, Undoing Gender, Doing Justice to Someone, p. 74

It is difficult to know what to say about this observation.

I would have thought, given the excruciating detail of Reimer’s life that Butler elucidates, it would be as obvious to her as it is to me, at least.

In the end, the urge to theorize everything, to make of it play is clearly overwhelming.

This may be the most fundamental difference between transgender and transsexual.

Namaste, I believe, picks up on this when throughout Sex Change, Social Change she recommends against reading Leslie Feinberg, Kate Bornstein, Ricki Wilkins and Judith Butler and urges we read Margaret Deidre O’Hartigan instead.

In sum, this is the difference between a human rights approach–as Namaste roundly criticizes John Fisher for–and a services approach–as she lauds Mirha-Soleil Ross for.

Namaste is quite correct to be concerned about the differences between civil code and common law–as we are. And from an anti-oppression perspective there is much to learn from this dialogue. But we are fortunate enough, or cursed enough, to live in a country with both.

We should learn from both. Not either/or but both/and.

My instructor in social work at Carleton, Rachael Crowder, has reinterested me in dialectic. It has been so many years since I have even heard the term, much less seen, through her, how applicable it is to the universes of discourses that have always fascinated me.

To follow the dialectical path in this narrative: John Fisher and the classical human rights strategy as conceived by the gay/lesbian rights movement, is the thesis; Viviane Namaste, offering a critique of this from an anti-oppression/civil code perspective, proposing a services and anti-marginalization coalition, is the antithesis.

I expect you can see where this is going.

In a common law/civil code split jurisdiction and for those convinced there must be, as an integral part of our liberation a raising of profile, a blended approach is necessary.

I have found inspiration for a revitalization of a rights approach in Martha Jackman and Bruce Porter “Socio-economic rights under the Canadian Charter” in Canadian Issues, Fall, 2007.

As one who is suceptible to literary/academic/theoretical fascination, like Butler, I’m not yet sure of the way forward in what we might call the Blatt-Freedman synthesis.

7 Responses to The Big G

  1. Shannon Blatt says:

    Heya Jessica. happy new year, such as it is. Good to see you posting again. I check regularly, as I tend to enjoy your posts and analysis, with the odd exception. But then again, that’s no surprise as our analyses are essentially the same in my view. I’ve been trying to figure out who or what MW is, but I’m stumped. I suspect I could be the SB, and if so, I think you have misunderstood some of the things I’ve had to say in the past while attempting to engage broader support for the struggle to achieve equality for trans folks. But I’m not posting now in order to quibble or quarrel. Instead, I’m posting to let you know that I have some plans underway to strike a significant blow for TRANS equality. I’ve given up on thinking that the trans ‘community’ can mobilize and work as a collective in solidarity, either with other trans people or the broader GLB communities, which I agree, have utterly failed us. I’m going to try my own hand at the sort of unilateralism that has been seen typically to date in trans activism. At least during its initial phase, it will be a solo show, but one that will, if successful, produce tremendous benefit to trans people. Other groups of ‘queer’ folks may enjoy a spin-off benefit. or they may not. If not, too bad, so sad. they aren’t the focus, not even remotely so. So..all this is just to say that despite appearances and my rather imminent departure from Ontario, I haven’t given up on trying to advance the cause of trans equality, and if I manage to pull this off, I’ll buy you a drink and we can toast the victory, because it will be sweet and satisfying and worth celebrating. In the meantime, I wish you all the best in building that room and place of your own.

  2. Shannon Blatt says:

    For the life of me, I can’t figure out why my last response should warrant deletion or screening, but it’s your blog, so it’s not my place to complain. The penny dropped as to who the MW is, and of course you’ve confirmed that I’m the SB you refer to. I can’t claim to really understand what you’re saying about “the SB approach”, nor can I accept that there is any such thing as a “SB approach.” It would more properly be called the RW approach, don’t you think? But regardless, while I still believe it’s smart, ethical and a winning strategy, it’s not one that I have any plans to pursue. What I plan to pursue is an approach rooted in the systems and processes I’ve been trained in: legal ones. I intend to pursue the long overdue declaration of section 15 Charter equality status for transsexual and transgender persons. If you wish to criticize, vilify or regard me with suspicion for doing so, that’s your choice. But we both know that if that can be obtained, it will produce significant, enduring benefits and a powerful tool for use in future advocacy and activism. I’m certain we agree on that. You may now delete this message, if you see fit. I simply wanted to let you know that I continue to pursue the struggle, and I plan to put my money where my mouth is. And hopefully, in time, folks like you and others who are committed to advancing trans equality will be able to put your mouths where my money is. 😉

  3. Shannon Blatt says:

    Thank you for bringing the discussion of “social condition” into the discussion. I fully intend to engage with that and will do my best to incorporate it, and nail the trifecta. If it’s ok with you, I may contact you to develop those arguments and obtain a more complete understanding of them. I’m meeting with counsel next week to start to get things rolling (no, I’m not going to be counsel on the matter…it’s too high stakes for anyone but the very best to take on) and I plan to fund this case out of my own pocket until at least a decision of record is generated at first instance (Ont. Superior Court of Justice.) Any appeals upward from there will hopefully attract funding from our “allies” in various quarters. I’ll be in touch to follow up on the social condition issue. take care. and keep on fighting the good fight.

  4. Shannon Blatt says:

    A quick PS: just as the inclusion of “gender identity” in the NWT HR Act will be of assistance in this litigation (along with the CHRA review’s recommendation and the Finding Our Place project’s recommendation), so too should the fact that the NWT HR Act specifies not just GI but also “social condition” as a prohibted ground of discrimination – prove helpful. that was a very long and awk. run-on sentence, but I’m racing out the door. thanks again.

  5. Shannon Blatt says:

    As I’ve said before Jessica, I’ve always felt that we tend to “violently agree” on just about everything, lol. I’m in Vancouver right now, and Lenore and i just signed a lease on an apartment here. After a celebratory brunch, we popped into Little Sisters bookstore (you’d love it), and grabbed copies of both Shelley’s work, and Namaste’s Sex Change, Social Change. I’d read Invisible Lives previously, but as you mentioned her work in the context of the social condition piece, I thought I’d head straight to source to read it before I invite you to coffee to discuss the arguments and how to develop them. I also grabbed a copy of Susan Stryker’s Transgender History. Probably a bit lighter-weight, but I respect her work and thought I’d give it a read. ttyl! 🙂

  6. Shannon Blatt says:

    I’ll cease the marathon with this post and email you sometime after I’m back in Ottawa and have had my first substantive meeting with the lawyers I’ve chosen. Reading the “Against Transgender Rights” piece couldn’t have been more timely, nor could your discussing the ground of social condition/etat civil here have been more timely. It’s so obvious to me now that pursuing social condition/etat civil is critical, along with the grounds of sex and GI/GE (or just G? ;)), though i take Namaste’s point in that regard…but have the works of John Money and others of his school never been translated into French? A book like “As Nature Made Them”?) It’s curious to me, though it probably shouldn’t be, that there is no equivalent word to “gender” in the french language.) Nevertheless, I feel so embarrassed by our failure as anglo activists (and in particular as an anglo, common-law trained lawyer) to take the Anglsbrger precedent more seriously. I have to say that her take was bang on. I’ve always viewed the case as an anomaly more or less…the unfamiliar product of a system I am not trained or hugely conversant in, confined in its impact to Quebec, and generated “pre-gender identity as a ground”, and generated too long ago to have any current punching power before the tribunals/courts. But after reading “Against Transgender Rights” it’s all fallen into place for me. The piece was very valuable. As always with Namaste, I can’t buy into *everything* she has to say, or at least not completely, but the gems are priceless. Like any academic, she seems very invested in her own paradigm, her own work, and i’m not sure it always benefits each fresh piece of work to be so invested and certain about *anything*, including one’s previous work and thought. but it seems endemic to the academy. it’s how careers are built. i’ll take the gems though, happily! I’ll look forward all the more to reading Susan Stryker’s book now, too. I’m not sure why I thought it would be lighter-weight, really. maybe just that i thought it would be bare history, not an engagement with theory.

    Oh…the term I’ve heard used increasingly these days is “surfacing another’s cisgender/cissexual privilege.” it makes them terribly uncomfortable when we do that. hostile even sometimes. sounds like you surfaced some folks privilege recently on the good old EGALE (Equality for Gays and Lesbians Everywhere) e-list. (yes, that defunct acronym was intentional and meant to be ironic.)

    I’ll be in touch by email. take care. thanks for letting me ramble on. out, ~S~

  7. Shannon Blatt says:

    Back in Ottawa now. It’s been bugging me. the CHRA Review Panel’s report *must* exist in bilingual format, but i’ve come up dry in finding it. it would necessarily translate the term “gender identity.” But with a bit of further looking, and a “doh!” moment concerning the work we do in the labour movement (such as it is), I’ve confirmed that the term gender identity now appears to be commonly translated as “l’identite sexuelle” (sorry, I can’t seem to do accents here.) I’ve found it used in both Federal and NWT HR Commission web pages. And that language is also used in collective agreements my union employer negotiates (when achievable..which is increasingly often.) I suspect I could find other sources using it in Canada too. my view, events have overtaken Namaste’s 2005 concerns about use of the term gender identity, and I think, satisfactorily addressed them, because the word gender is not being used, but rather the broadly interpreted notion of sex that came out of the earlier QC case law (and has in any event been adopted in the anglo case law.) So…that all seems a non-issue to me now. But the issue of social condition/etat civil remains a live and important one, one offering broader, more nuanced and flexible protection, but also protection that goes well beyond being specific to trans people. Query then the wisdom of pursuing is simultaneously with a gender identity/identite sexuelle challenge? Adding SC in this initial challenge begs the likelihood of much greater pushback from reactionary forces who’ll claim it is too vague and over-broad ‘sounding’, permissive of protecting “the absurd” (i.e. even if they might support trans equality, they may object to a very broad-sounding ground like social condition.) It’s easy to see that backlash coming, but it doesn’t make the language not worth pursuing necessarily of course. I read just today online that Real Menard (BQ) proposed in the justice committee that the CHRA be amended to add social condition as a prohibited ground. So…it’s a live and pursuable issue for sure. check out: and (the latter for a classic case of institutional erasure. you’ll find identite sexuelle referred to at one point, but not listed as it should be in the table that summarizes which grounds of discrimination are prohibited in which Can. jurisdictions. fascinating. Note also that “condition sociale” seems to be used in french-language legislation where the english refers to “social condition.” so…that raises the question of whether “condition sociale” should be sought, rather than “etat civil”. how does coffee next week sometime sound?

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