In late 2016, Canada’s Liberal government officially passed legislation amending its Canadian Human Rights Act (CHRA) to include perceived transgressions against transgender individuals. The bill passed with no recorded votes — meaning the publicly elected legislators passed it via secret ballot. The bill’s implications were largely lost in the news cycle amidst the heated US presidential election.
In summary, Bill C-16 amends the CHRA, adding “gender identity” and “gender expression” to the list of prohibited grounds of discrimination.
Going further, the bill also amends the Criminal Code of Canada (CCC) by extending protections against ‘hate propagada” to individuals who distinguish themselves by “gender identity” or “gender expression”
The bill can be read here in its entirety.
After actually reading it, you will notice that the bill does not even attempt to define “gender identity” or “gender expression.” Basically the Canadian version of, “we have to pass the bill so that you can find out what is in it.”
Liberal Member of Parliament Jody Wilson–Raybould originally introduced the bill back in May. She elaborated on its vagaries:
“Gender identity is a person’s internal and individual experience of their gender. It is the deeply-felt experience of being a man, a woman, or being somewhere along the gender spectrum.”
Well, it’s comforting to know that the governing Liberal Party is amending the CCC based on people’s “internal feelings.” I suddenly feel like I fit into the lowest income tax bracket. Will that be okay, Canada Revenue Agency?
Raybould continued her elaboration on gender:
“Conversely, gender expression is how a person publicly presents their gender. It is the external and outward presentation of gender through aspects such as dress, hair, make-up, body language, and voice.”
As made clear by its author, Bill C-16 legally recognizes that one’s outfit and hairstyle supersede one’s biology as defining characteristics of gender. It’s a human rights violation to argue that a man – with all male parts – in a wig and dress is still a man. Apparently, the only thing that sets women apart from men is a ten-dollar Walmart shopping list.