As far as society is concerned, trans people are continuously one of the most (if not the single most) marginalized and discriminated against groups in society. They suffer even more prejudice and intolerance than gays and lesbians, as transphobia is present in all communities, even the queer ones. And though gender identity is included in many human rights codes in North America, there are still far more that do not include transgender folks in any legislation.
That said, it is unsurprising (and still incredibly disheartening) that a current bill supporting trans people is at the bottom of the Canadian Senate's pile for consideration. BILL C-389, if enacted, will offer transgender citizens explicit protection under the law, no matter where they live in the country. The legislation - which has already been approved by the House of Commons - has been put to the side to accommodate a slew of crime-based bills brought forth by the Conservative government.
“We are now facing before the committee the arrival, fairly soon, of a slew of government bills that have worked their way through the hopper and are coming to us, and government bills take priority over private member’s bills,” Liberal Senator Joan Fraser, who chairs the Senate legal and constitutional affairs committee, told Xtra.ca. “Sometimes the way it works in the process is there’s a little bit of a gap between disposing of all the government bills already referred to the committee and getting the next one, and we try to fit consideration of private members’ bills and special studies in there."
The bill is currently awaiting a second reading debate, but will continue to remain in queue until a sponsor of the bill is chosen. MP Bill Siksay of the New Democratic Party authored the bill, but has yet to find a sponsor. Some even want to amend the bill to include "sex" as a grounds for discrimination.
“While I am saddened we need this legislation in the first place, I intend to support Bill C-389 and hope that we will soon come to a place where all citizens are free to exercise their individual rights and freedoms without discrimination or violence,” Progressive Conservative Senator Elaine McCoy said.
Transgender people are some of the most marginalized and discriminated against people in Canada. Studies have shown that they are underpaid, often living below the poverty line, despite having high rates of post-secondary education. Not only that, but trans youth are at an extremely high-risk of suicide due to the continued culture of transphobia that is promoted. Trans people continue to be discriminated against in employment, housing and public accommodations.
Once again, I urge you to facilitate a second reading of BILL C-389 and to work toward passing the much needed legislation.