On Thursday, June 15, 2017, 81 senators came together to vote on Bill C-16 and give people in the transgender community in Canada more protection. Of the 81 senators that attended, 67 of them voted in favor of Bill C-16. It was also passed in the House of Commons in November of 2015 and it now waits only for royal assent.
Bill C-16 requires the Canadian Human Rights Act and the Criminal Code to be updated. It will be adapted to include the terms “gender identity” and “gender expression.” Once this bill is passed completely, it will make it so that people cannot be discriminated against on the basis of gender identity or expression. Targeting someone for being transgender would become a hate crime, and hate speech against someone in the transgender community would be a crime, as well.
After the bill was passed, Independent Alberta Senator Gran Mitchell said, “Transgender and gender-divers people deserve to know that they are welcome and accepted, embraced and protected, and that in Canada they are free to be their true selves.” According to CBC, Senator Mitchell has been an advocate for transgender rights for a long time. Senator Mitchell also said that the bill is not just about protection for people in the transgender community but it’s also about Parliament giving the message that everyone should be treated equally.
There are still a few Conservative senators that are against Bill C-16. One of them is Senator Don Plett from Manitoba who describes it as a “threat to free speech.” His concern was that he, and other Canadians, would have to use gender-neutral pronouns, which is not what the bill is about. Senator Lynn Beyak from Ontario felt that it goes against feminism because it would give men the permission to freely go into women’s bathrooms and change rooms.
During the Senate’s legal and constitutional affairs committee debate, people from the transgender community came forward to speak about how they were vulnerable and how their community needed this protection. Others, including some feminists, spoke to the senators about how it was a threat to women who were born female and would invade and threaten the spaces where they should feel safe, such as bathrooms.
What do you think? Is this bill just about giving everyone basic rights and protections? Or will this cause problems in the future?
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