Protecting our children…

I’ve always told my children that we’re lucky to live in Canada, with our Charter of Rights and our focus on prevention of hate crimes instead of freedom of speech. I was even happier and more proud the spring Jeremy turned seven as our province became the first in Canada to legalize equal marriage. I looked at Jeremy and was glad that zie’d be able to marry whomever zie fell in love with. This was important as Jeremy had crushes on two boys and a girl that year and had told me mere weeks earlier that zie was going to marry zir male classmate when they grew up.

My kids were safe and protected.

A couple of days ago I discovered that there are only two doctors in all of Ontario that are able to approve sex reassignment surgery. Granted, this doesn’t affect Jeremy as zie seems fairly happy with zir body but it was still a surprise. Ontario’s a huge province, just over a million square kilometers, and has a population of 13.6 million people. It would take close to 30 hours to drive from one side of the province to the other. Then came the bombshell. The two doctors, Kenneth Zucker and Susan Bradley, both favour reparative therapy for trans kids. Zucker asks “parents to take away their child’s “feminine” toys and instruct the child not to play with or draw pictures of girls” (obviously focusing on MtF children *cough* homophobia *cough*) and goes on to claim that parents who fail to force their child into gender norms are offering “some type of emotional neglect.”

Jeremy during a short hair phase proudly showing off zir new earring and newest stuffed animal.

Jeremy during a short hair phase, proudly showing off zir new earring and newest stuffed animal while drinking zir favourite princess punch. Zucker would definitely disapprove.

Suddenly I was looking at Jeremy and feeling like zie wasn’t quite so safe.

Immediately after reading this, I discovered that only four provinces in Canada have gender identity down as a reason for protection against hate crimes (Ontario, Nova Scotia, Manitoba and the Northwest Territories) and only Ontario and Nova Scotia include gender expression. And then came the real shocker… House Speaker dismisses bid to vote again on transgender protections.

From what I understand by reading this article, NDP MP Randall Garrison created a bill called C-279. This bill requested protection, based on gender identity, to the Criminal Code and the Canadian Human Rights Act. Now here’s the kicker. Bill C-279 PASSED by twelve votes! Three months ago the Conservative government decided to re-vote on this issue but by committee instead. The committee held only nine members, five of which were conservative. At the time, one of the committee members was David Wilks, one of a mere handful of Conservatives who voted yes for protection. He got swapped out of the committee. It doesn’t say who voted for which side but with five Conservatives and five no votes, it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to guess. Conservative Senator Don Plett is the one who moved to have the bill sent to committee, saying that he was concerned that the bill would allow abuse of laws and let “pedophiles take advantage of legislation that we have in place”. He went on to claim he was trying to protect “the rights of five- and six-year-old children”. How the fuck is saying that someone can’t beat the shit out of a person because they look male but are wearing a skirt going to protect a five year old child?

I was reading a post on the blog Raising my Rainbow last fall. The post talked about how Lori’s six year old son, CJ, was scared to use the bathroom because the other boys kept trying to check his genitals to make sure he was a boy and not a girl. He was so scared, he ended up wetting his pants while waiting for the dismissal bell. He hadn’t used the toilet in over six hours. I read this post to Jeremy and was surprised by zir answer.

“Mom, you have to write to her. How old is CJ again?” I said six and Jeremy thought a bit more. “Okay, tell her he’s probably still young enough to use the kindergarten washroom. That might be an option. But if it’s not, tell her he shouldn’t use the stall. It’s not safe. What he needs to do is get right close to the urinal so the little walls on each side will offer some protection. Maybe his Dad could show him how, if he’s got a Dad.”

Zie watched as I dutifully typed the information down. Meanwhile I tried to hide my surprise. Jeremy hadn’t given that information as someone trying to think of something that might help. Zie’d given that information as someone who’d been through the exact same situation and had come up with something that helped zir. And I’d never known. Apparently Jeremy found it so commonplace to have fellow classmates checking to see if zie had a penis that zie didn’t even mention it to me; at least not until Jeremy had discovered someone zie might be able to help.

The sad thing is these aren’t isolated incidents. But apparently the Conservatives are only interested in protecting the rights of most five or six year olds. And that makes me furious. Both my kids deserve to be protected.

17 thoughts on “Protecting our children…

    • Not only does he do reassignment surgery but he’s the actual head of the child and adolescent gender identity clinic in Toronto. All while claiming that the parents who listen to their children and respect their identities are emotionally neglecting them.

      This is one time I’m glad I was clueless when Jeremy was growing up because we live right by Toronto so that’s where we’d have landed. Not that I’d have listened to him, but it’s a headache we didn’t need.

    • I should clarify. As far as I know, he doesn’t do the surgery. He’s just one of only two people who can approve the surgery. The other one, Susan Bradley, also supports reparative therapy.

      Jeremy was floored when I told zir then went to the closet and started pulling out all sorts of stuffed animals saying, “Well I guess he wouldn’t approve of little pink pony either, or my lavender bunny, or my pink dragon, or my…”

  1. I’m surprised that Zucker and Bradley are involved in approving surgery. I thought they worked with the clinic for children and teens, not the clinic for adults. (You have to be 18 to get surgery.)

  2. They’re not allies. I don’t know about this dudecreep in particular, but they’re part of the history of research, pathologization, and overall exploitation of trans people that the medical and academic industries have championed for too long.

  3. It’s amazing how little others are aware of this situation, yet every day there’s some form of movement trying to bring forth education on these matters. And even then it seems to barely scratch the surface, as misinformation is constantly provided or the lack of awareness of how vast gender actually is.
    Reading the comments about how one of the heads for the department sees that there is a “cure” to trans*individuals, and saying that children just need to “express their hatred for their body” is assenine. When there’s lack of expression, it leads to further injury. Myself and my sister are both trans, for her, she got severely depressed especially within her youth that she would commit self harm or attempts on her own life. To say that it’s something they can work through, that the hatred of the body is, more or less, just a phrase, is wrong. Just like increasing the hormones of ones birth sex will not align a person’s gender to their assigned sex at birth.
    The only cure for trans*, is by providing resources to help with an actual transition that will help align their sex to their gender as they see themselves.
    And not every trans* can be treated the same universally either as each person goes down a different path, has different identities, and different experiences.

  4. I have a friend who’s currently transitioning. There’s only one doctor who can deal with trans patients here in Calgary and they are apparently not very good. Sadly, while Canada isn’t bad for homophobia, transphobia is a big problem.
    With any luck, we can get the NDP in government in 2015 and they can bring that bill back. I’m tired of all the stupidity the Conservatives have been forcing on us.
    Though even if that happens, I think it’ll still take a few years for the transphobia to start to disappear (though, luckily it’ll disappear in grade schools first, since kids accept change so well). As someone who is gender non-conforming and can “pass” as male quite easily, one of my biggest fears is getting pregnant. My partner and I plan to have kids, but I’ve heard a few horror stories about trans* people dealing with hospitals while pregnant.

    • Even the Liberals would be okay, they backed the bill and most of them supported it (Jeremy desperately wants “the kid” to win).

      Jeremy had yet another person staring at zir in the elevator on the way downstairs for our walk. Even dressed in a ratty old SuperMario shirt and plain blue soccer shorts there’s no passing going on here.

      (((hugs))) like there isn’t enough stress with planning a family as it is. Are midwives an option where you are? I know they’re covered in Ontario and, unlike a doctor, they actually stay with you for labour and delivery.

      • They’re not covered by our health care, but I doubt I’d go with one even if they were. It’s too hard to get one: waiting lists are too long.
        People will always stare. I’m sure Jeremy is used to it enough to ignore it most of the time. Staring isn’t really a problem though: it’s when they feel the need to say something that you know there is a problem. As for passing, it’s really as silly idea. What does it actually mean to pass? In all likelihood, Jeremy probably passes just fine. Until they hit puberty, the only way to tell a child’s sex/gender is their clothes and hair. But anything that causes people to think “weird kid” will cause them to stare.

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