Hamilton needs transgender protocols, not discrimination
Transgender women are not predators or a threat to Hamilton children
Jim Enos and the Christian Heritage Party are crying “foul.” Last summer, a campaign was mounted by them to attempt to stir up public alarm and anger over the fact that Hamilton is in the process of adopting a set of protocols for relating to the transgender community in a fair and informed manner.
This effort by Hamilton arose as a result of a Human Rights Tribunal case involving a transgender woman who was unfairly dealt with when attempting to use public facilities at the McNab bus terminal. The new protocols are part of a settlement Hamilton agreed to in order to resolve the case.
The campaign by Enos and the CHP, through the distribution of 3,500 flyers on Hamilton Mountain and the purchase of three display ads at Hamilton bus shelters, used innuendo in a thinly-veiled message claiming that the new protocols would lead to women and children being at risk of being attacked by men in washrooms and change rooms. The ads featured a picture of a man walking toward a door marked “Ladies Showers” and the caption “Competing human rights ... Where is the justice?”
Acting on a complaint by the parent of a transgender child, the City of Hamilton removed the posters. Enos and the CHP are complaining that by removing the posters, Hamilton violated their “freedom of expression.”
The Christian Heritage Party is an extreme right-wing political party of which Enos is a candidate, which advocates for Canada to be governed according to (Christian) Biblical law. Perhaps this is what informs Enos’ opinions regarding transgender people. I’ve observed that “religiousright” organizations and individuals tend to be reactionary about things they don’t understand.
I can’t be sure, but I suspect Enos has never met or spent any amount of time with any transgender people. I don’t know if he’s ever read any of the numerous op-ed columns I’ve written for the Spectator, but if he has, it’s apparent my arguments have not been sufficient to cause him to reconsider his persecution of our community.
Yes, you read that right — persecution. Enos has been harping on this since at least 2012, when he sought to get Hamilton city council to consider passing “proactive” legislation forbidding transgender people to use the public facilities corresponding with their true gender in response to a Toronto policy of transgender inclusion. He didn’t like it then, and he doesn’t like it now. But let’s get back to the “free expression” argument.
Enos and the CHP argue that Hamilton has violated their freedom of expression. However, there are limits to freedom of expression, especially where such expression seeks to malign a person or an identifiable group of people. In this case, the posters that were removed pack a lot of implied content which is meant to convey the message that allowing transgender women to use the ladies room presents a danger to women and children in those environments. This further presumes that transgender women are by definition predators. This is the message conveyed by a picture and a few words. In addition, the phrase “Competing human rights” and the question “Where’s the justice” signifies that Enos believes that his human rights are more valid or more important than the human rights of transgender people.
I would like to throw that question back at him: Where is the justice for transgender people, Mr. Enos? Where is the justice when we are hounded by people like you, and forced to defend our very humanity, but you get to hide behind your righteous indignation and face no consequences?
Where is the justice when you stir up fears that cause people to discriminate against us, to attack us and do violence against us, yet you pretend no responsibility? Where is OUR justice, Mr. Enos? You would deny us basic human decency.
The protocols that Hamilton is considering are the part of a lawful settlement of a case before the Human Rights Tribunal. Transgender people must currently fight each and every case of discrimination this in front of the Tribunal, because it’s the only tool we have, and very few of us have the means and stamina to use it. Bill C-16, currently being considered by the Senate, would provide federal protection for our human rights by adding Gender Identity and Expression to the Canadian Human Rights code and the Criminal Code of Canada. This would simply give us the same protection as is currently afforded on the basis of race, colour, creed, and similar categories. I ask again: where is OUR justice?
Where is OUR justice … you would deny us basic human decency.