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Shall We Debate YOUR Gender Identity, Mr. Ford?

Updated on November 17, 2018
Christina St-Jean profile image

I am a mom of two awesome children who teach me more daily than I ever thought possible. I love writing, exercise, movies, & LGBT advocacy.

Gender Identity Is Different For Everyone - Who Are You To Debate Its Validity?

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An "Unscientific Liberal Ideology?" What Gender Identity Studies Have You Read, Mr. Ford?

At this weekend's Progressive Conservative convention in Ontario, Ontario's PC's passed a resolution that they shall, probably within about a year, debate about whether they should continue to recognize gender identity theory, citing it as "liberal ideology." The overarching goal, at least in part, will see anything about gender identity removed from the current Health and Physical Education curriculum that is currently under fire by the Ford government.

As one might expect, this is a highly controversial move, even though Ford claims that he is standing up for families. It would seem he would like to ignore the Ontario Human Rights Commission as well; the Policy On Preventing Discrimination Because Of Gender Identity And Gender Expression states that "Under the Ontario Human Rights Code (the Code) people are protected from discrimination and harassment because of gender identity and gender expression in employment, housing, facilities and services, contracts, and membership in unions, trade or professional associations."

Apparently, Ford and his government believe gender identity is not protected from debate, although the province's own Human Rights Code says gender identity and expression are both protected from discrimination.

The TransPULSE Project surveyed some 433 trans Ontarians in 2009-2010 in order to determine Sex and Gender Diversity Among Transgender Persons in Ontario, Canada. The reason why I bring this up is because, while the report was published around 4 years ago, its relevance is especially important particularly in light of the Ford government's decision to debate the recognition of gender identity. To be sure, 433 individuals make a relatively small sample in light of the fact that Ontario's overall population is around 14,193,384, according to Statistics Canada's 2017 information.

That said, the TransPULSE Project's report acknowledged there was a wide range in gender identity even across that relatively small sample of 433 report participants, ranging from genderqueer, to nonbinary, to transgender, among other gender identities. According to the report, "those who are planning to transition but have not yet done so, risk of suicidal thoughts and attempts is particularly pronounced." In addition, the report also suggests that "Trans persons with nonbinary identities, or who are in process of transition, or who are not perceived in their felt gender despite transitioning may be better served by policies that eliminate gender and sex markers, wherever possible."

It would appear that there might be some evidence to indicate that by debating whether to recognize gender identity, a sector of Ontario's population is set to feel even more discriminated against than some already do. This sense of feeling "other" under the current "Progressive" Conservative government might put some Ontarians whose gender identity fit outside the binary of male and female to the point that their mental health suffers, possibly disastrously. It should also be noted that there are quite a few of these non-binary, gender nonconforming or transgender individuals who are in our schools right now.

In suggesting that a debate over gender identity will occur in the future in the Ontario government, there is an implication that those who have a gender identity that does not "fit" within the gender binary may well see the government put their very personhood on the line.

When you decide to debate someone's identity, gender or otherwise, you are threatening to erase who they are. We try to encourage individuality in 21st-century society - we encourage our students to try and be free and independent thinkers so that they can stand on their own as contributing members of society.

If you even threaten to debate something so intrinsic to an individual's sense of self as their own gender identity - even to suggest that such a debate would be on the table - you're putting everyone's gender identity on the line, including those who fall in line with the gender binary. Why should those individuals who identify as male or female be immune from such a debate?

Yes, Mr. Ford - that includes you.

If you and your party want to debate the recognition of gender identity, know what you're opening yourself and the members of your party up to. Don't fool yourself; there are kids who identify as gender nonconforming that potentially support the Progressive Conservatives who you have now ostracized because of this decision to debate recognition of gender identity. There are Ontario families who have kids and other family members who identify as transgender, nonbinary or otherwise gender non-conforming that you've probably lost the support of. Gender identity is not a matter of "liberal ideology."

It's a matter of letting people live as they are, free from discrimination, provided they're doing so legally.

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    • Lady Lorelei profile image

      Lorelei Cohen 

      15 months ago from Canada

      I heard on the news this week that Alberta is attempting to place a ban on conversion therapy. It is difficult to imagine that this religious based practice still occurs in Canada and very sad to know that it does. It would seem that discrimination based on sexual orientation is almost as rampant as that of racism, just hidden a little further from the public eye. Sad to see both condoned by certain political parties and their members.

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