NDP on verge of fixing thing it screwed up 7 years ago... maybe.

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Red Tory Tea Girl
NDP on verge of fixing thing it screwed up 7 years ago... maybe.

So, Bill C-389, a bill to introduce the same comprehensive human rights proctections for gender identity that sexual orientation has had for 7 years has passed second reading and is slowly meandering through the House of Commons. And has passed second reading.

Finally! Bill Siskay will make whole Canada's LGBT rights body of law. Finally! Someone will undo the damage done by that retrogressive politician,


wait for it,


Svend Robinson.

Svend could have passed a trans-inclusive bill. It's not like the NDP didn't have an LGBT caucus then. It's not like they weren't vocal and proud and working every convention. And it's not like he was the first North American cis gay man to throw trans womyn and men under the bus. And it's not like the bill was on the verge of failing to pass parliament in the first place, since it passed by voice vote, this being something, if the numbers were remotely close, that those opposed to the bill would have forced division in the house, getting embarassed in the senate 59-11. But then, calling for the eradication trans womyn has been something of a passion for the faux-feminist-left just like it has been for the crypto-christianist-right.

I am burned by you people before I even knew it, and it's way too little and too late to apply this and call it salve. Trans men and womyn are due the same rights every other Canadian has had since 1988: Freedom to do with our reproductive system what we will. This is but a welcome first step in closing the gulf that the transmisogynist wing of the socialist movement, always avowed to be a very marginalized yet vocal minority, but surprisingly always around when these decisions are being made, opened.

Forgive the venom, but it is a most justifiable anger this anti-Harperite and tomato-red-tory trans lesbian carries on occasion.

Issues Pages: 
Red Tory Tea Girl

It's sad when you can't get your fellow leftists to criticize Svend Robinson on something he was plainly wrong on and had cause to be wrong on... of course, had I been more self-aware in '03, I'd hope to have held his feet to the fire... but I used to suck at realizing when people said, "you have a problem with strong women" that they were only getting my subconsious stress at not being seen as one.


[/self-pitying rant]

Ken Burch

I strongly hope that this WILL pass now, but it strikes me, watching from another country as an outsider on this, that you might have made a stronger case for your position if  you hadn't insisted on ending your OP with a personal attack on a person who is now retired from electoral politics, who isn't even living in Canada anymore( He's working with an international aid agency in Switzerland), and who no longer has any role to play in this debate.  It's not as if Svend is still sitting in the Commons and is STILL trying to stop trans womyn and myn from being protected from discrimination.

Why, if I may ask, did you feel it was important to bring up now what Svend Robinson did on this issue years ago?  You have every right to your anger and your feelings of betrayal towards Svend, just wondering why you felt it was necessary to make this about him. 

That said, I do know what it feels like to have a person you support let you down, and I hope you won't take this as argumentative or dismissive of your feelings.

Ken Burch

Can anybody else here explain why Svend was against including trans womyn and myn back in the day?  Did somebody convince him that the bill wouldn't pass unless trans womyn and myn were left out?

Red Tory Tea Girl

Um... most prominent cis gay politician in the country... it's kinda, like, their job to be transphobic. Just look at Barney Frank. Plus the NDP constituency includes a lot of BC feminist-identified ideologues... which, given what happened with Lu's pharmacy's "women-born-women policy", which assumes that my brain dodged a miscarriage just for male privilege, means a lot of transmisogynist ideologues.


I wish all the people who agreed with the statement, "My body, my choice" would separate themselves from these people who call themselves feminists and spend most of their time criticizing women... also, thanks for reaffirming my faith in Rabble, you t-um... one. :P

Ken Burch

Wasn't trying to pick a fight with you.  Of course you have a right to your feelings and your strategy.  Sorry if I caused offense(which I sense I did). 



Red Tory Tea Girl

No, no, no, you didn't... and I'll bring up Germaine Greer at will too... or Janice Raymond... because it's a good thing to highlight what the sacred cows of the left have done to my sisters and I.

Svend was the one who introduced this bill, who the NDP left, which I was involved with, despite accusations to the contrary, could never accuse of doing harm... Svend screwed over transsexuals... go to Switzerland and ask him why and then smack him if he says,  "we couldn't get the votes" I've already shown it wasn't a valid point.

Ken Burch

Well, I don't quite have the cash for a round-trip fair to Geneva, so I'll take your word for it.

bagkitty bagkitty's picture

Red Tory Tea Girl wrote:

[...]Svend was the one who introduced this bill, who the NDP left, which I was involved with, despite accusations to the contrary, could never accuse of doing harm... Svend screwed over transsexuals... go to Switzerland and ask him why and then smack him if he says,  "we couldn't get the votes" I've already shown it wasn't a valid point.

Actually, you have made an assertion, not proven a point. You have not even really backed up your assertion.

If you had given some indication of the vote in the Commons (a hurdle that had to be passed before a change of this nature would end up in the Senate) and then some polling information to show how likely that those voting in favour of adding sexual orientation were to continue to vote in support if gender expression and identity were part of the change, then you might be considered to have at least supported your assertion -- as it is you have done little more than than smeared Robinson.

You neglect to consider the role of the PC, Reform, Liberal and BQ in this, the Justice Minister and the opposition critics and justice committee members... surely some of the blame falls on them as well - it's not like I have anything against vendettas (hey I am all in favour of them personally), but I think you need something verifiable to support them.

I think you are quite right that if someone were to go over to Switzerland and ask Robinson why, the response would be "we couldn't get the votes" -- what you haven't done is demonstrate convincingly that his interpretation is inaccurate. Again, please demonstrate that the PC, Reform, Bloc and Liberal votes were there... a quote from the then Justice Minister saying that Svend scuttled the idea would be a good place to start (of course that would leave the tangled question of why the then Justice Minister didn't simply introduce such a change himself).

Inclusion of orientation was an incremental victory, and in important respects that really bites... it falls short of full justice -- but that is the price of "sullying" ideal positions with day to day politics in the legislatures, sometimes the incremental victories are the only ones that are obtainable at any given point. Rather than play the vendetta game, how about paying a little attention to Siksay's attempts to take the next incremental step, and have gender identiy and expression included... it might not be as emotional satisfying as take a shot at Robinson, but it could be put to a more practical use... like generating support for Siskay's PMB.

Red Tory Tea Girl

We had the votes. C-250 passed every reading on voice vote, save for 2nd in the Senate and there it passed 59-11.

The NDP had an LGBT caucus, by name, that failed to get a peep to the member, or whose membership didn't care... honestly I don't know. I wasn't in the party then, and I wasn't out then, myself included.

The principle was the same. The opposition numbers were so small that even Alliance members who thought there were votes in homophobia couldn't bear to have a recorded vote in the Commons. 

Oh, and look at Massachussets if you want to see what cis-first incrementalism does for trans rights. New York too...

You know what happens when we abandon the principle of trans inclusion in LGBT rights bills? Cisfolk prove very, very, good, at forgetting about us.

Oh, and by the way, there's a trans-inclusive rights law in Salt Lake City. Salt Lake City, yet not Massachussets... the problem is, well... there are people on the left who hate transsexuality as they find us politically inconvenient, often due to their own willful blindness:

Feminists like Germaine Greer, who spent the 90's trying to do to other trans professors what Janice Raymond (you'd know her, if not on her own merits, she was Mary Daly's protege, Mary Daly being fairly lionized for someone who calls a person correcting an endocrine imbalance akin to Frankenstein's monster. Apparently the axiom of "my body, my choice," doesn't apply to us...

Respectable middle-class cis-gay men, who did none of the instigating and somehow got all of the gains from the Stonewall riots, kicking trans people out of the movement as early as '73. Look at the working over Barney Frank has done to ENDA, stripping out protections for the genderqueer and the non-operative and pre-operative... so there they are perpetually delaying a bill, modified mainly by progressive Democrats, that will provide protections for the wealthiest quarter of individuals who are, in this case, blessed with a brain/body map that encourages them to seek a more congruent body via surgical means.

And last, and least in number, health professionals, like Ken Zucker... you know him, works at CAMH, came to Canada to avoid serving in Vietnam, just like Ray Blanchard... Ken's the fellow who tries reparative therapy on little boys and girls, mostly girls, forcing their parents to take away toys and clothing and behavior that are consistent with the child's target gender, in the belief that that will save them the horrible horrible burden of being women (again, sorry for the focus on transfemininity but how many parents are stressed at a tomboy as compared to a sissy?) They've got their theories, at odds with, you know, evidence, that either this is just a kink, or that it's something gay men do to become straight... (Try telling that to this lesbian.)

And yes, Siskay's politics are incremental, in that the constitutionally enshrined right to control our own bodies will still lag 22 years behind cis womyn in recognition. I'm not incensed at him because he's reducing the gap between groups and going for that bundle of rights we can all share, instead of guaranteeing human rights only to those the majority find acceptable.

And yes, the NDP should apologize, should mention it's grown up. Just because everyone else were rotten is no reason the NDP can't say better. We Canadians apologized for internment. Castro apologized for throwing gays and lesbians in labour camps.  The NDP could apologize for decades of letting down transfolk, culminating, in C-389.

And I must say, bagkitty, the right of transfolk to employment and housing is something I am, quite frankly shocked, you'd say wasn't worth amending a law so that we didn't have the situation evolve where declaring homosexuality to be a disease could have one thrown in jail, and declaring transsexuality to be a disease could get one a position with the Health Ministry or any organization you might hear tripe like Women-born-women...

And yes, telling you that you owe it to your principles to support this bill and resolve your party's earlier travesty IS putting my energy to practical use. Making the left confront its own transphobia IS a practical use.

bagkitty bagkitty's picture


Bill C-250 (which you have referred to) was Robinson's PMB submitted to amend the Criminal Code to include "sexual orientation" to the list of protected classes in the hate propaganda sections of the Code (318 and 219). It was passed 141-110. Party breakdown and member breakdown can be obtained at this link (breakdown by member is a sub-link). 62 of the 63 Alliance members voted against the motion as did 41 Liberals and 7 PCs  (there were a surprising large number of absences that day (39 to be precise - 33 of them Liberals, 1 each from the Bloc, Alliance and PCs, plus 3 of the 4 independents -- and who knows how the vote would have turned out had it been a full house). It most assuredly did not pass on a simple voice vote, please consult Hansard for 17 September 2003, members in opposition to the motion rose demanding a recorded vote.

If, on the other hand, you are referring to the vote to include sexual orientation in the Human Rights Act, that was in 1996, C-33 - it was introduced by the government (Justice Minister Alan Rock) and was passed 153-76 (while I have not researched this one, I would assume because of the precision of the figures reported, it too did not pass on a simple voice vote and that a recorded vote was required by those in opposition).

Robinson had introduced PMBs five separate times (1983, 1985, 1986, 1989 and 1991) to have sexual orientation included in the Canadian Human Rights Act - all failed because they "didn't have the votes". (And his 5 attempts didn't even include the first attempt... that was [to her great credit] in 1980 by PCer Pat Carney).

If you require a scapegoat to hang the failure of this (the 1993) amendment to the Human Rights Act to include gender identity and gender expression, I would suggest Rock would be the logical choice. As to whether any hypothetical statement from Robinson to the effect of "we didn't have the votes" would be valid, I think the evidence of his five previous failed attempts to have sexual orientation (as a stand alone category) would tend to give credence to such a hypothetical assertion (if not categorically proving it).

You want to take Robinson to task for "throwing trans womyn and men under the bus" - but fail to provide any verifiable information to back up your assertions. Indeed, attempts to verify your information reveal that the bill you are referring to (C-250) doesn't even address the point you are talking about (inclusion under the Human Rights Act). Just tossing mud at someone to see if anything sticks is not enough - there have to be facts to back things up. That your accusations can be disproved tends to undermine the credibility of the other points you are trying to raise.

My remarks should not be taken as a blanket endorsement of the NDP's position on inclusion of gender identity and gender expression in relevant human rights legislation. At present there is only a single jurisdiction in Canada (the NWT) that explicitly spells out such rights in its Human Rights Code. Given that at least four provincial jurisdictions have had NDP governments the provincial wings have a lot to answer for given their failure to address this when they clearly had the power to do so. But given that Robinson was never elected to a provincial legilsature I don't think you can hang responsibility for their inaction on him either.



Despite what I take to be essentially an allegation or accusation to the contrary:

Red Tory Tea Girl wrote:
And I must say, bagkitty, the right of transfolk to employment and housing is someting I am, quite frankly shocked, you'd wasn't worth amending a law so we didnt have the situatione evolve where declaring homosexuality to be a disease could have one thrown in jail, and declaring transsexuality to be a disease could get one a position with the Health Ministry or any organization you might hear tripe like Women-born-women...

I don't believe I have ever stated anything that even remotely suggests that gender identity and gender expression should not be enumerated as prohibited grounds in the federal or any of the provincial Human Rights Codes, or in the Charter. Indeed, if my interpretation of the paragraph I have quoted is correct (although that is hard to tell, the paragraph is, to me, almost unintelligible), such an assertion is deeply offensive and I would request that you refrain from making such accusations. If my interpretation is incorrect, I would appreciate a clarification.

While I did speak of incrementalism, I quite clearly stated that I thought they were "lesser" victories, and essentially lauded Siksay for working for the next one... hopefully his PMB will be successful and gender identity and gender expression will be included in a future version of the federal Human Rights Act.

As to employment and housing rights... I think you will find those are provincial jurisdictions - and while, as I mentioned earlier, I don't think the provinicial wings of the NDP have anything to be proud of on this issue, I don't think the bogeyman you are trying to pillory has anything particular to apologize about.

Red Tory Tea Girl

I would note that while the NDP was willing to sustain parliament in exchange for a GST exemption on heating oil, it wasn't willing to sustain parliament long enough to let the aforementioned bill C-389 pass the Senate. The party that cares, except when it doesn't. Now I expect we'll be waiting about ten years for a federal bill to pass that reverses the regressive actions of the Doer government.


On another note: On reflection, there are some days I cannot type or produce intelligible syntax in my rush to press the post button, and for that, I apologize.