OTTAWA, May 16, 2017 (LifeSiteNews) — Two feminists have charged that Liberal transgender “rights” bill will jeopardize women’s rights if it allows biological men into spaces that are for “female-born” women only.
Hilla Kerner, who spoke on behalf of a Vancouver rape crisis centre, and Meghan Murphy told the senate committee studying Bill C-16 that men who choose to be women are not the same as women.
Bill C-16 adds “gender identity” and “gender expression” to the Human Rights Code as prohibited grounds of discrimination, and to the hate crime section in the Criminal Code.
The Vancouver Rape Relief and Women’s Shelter is “worried that well-intentioned legislation will be used to undermine the rights of women and the crucial work of women’s groups to serve and organize with female-born women,” Kerner said.
She told the committee that the shelter, run by a feminist collective that is pro-abortion and pro-lesbianism, has been subject to a “witch hunt” because it doesn’t take in men who identify as women.
It won the right to do so after a 12-year legal battle with Kimberly Nixon, a man who identifies as a woman and has had sex reassignment surgery.
Nixon brought a human rights complaint against Vancouver Rape Relief after it refused to let him volunteer as a crisis counsellor.
The B.C. appeals court threw the case out in 2005, and the Supreme Court declined to hear it two years later.
But even though the court “agreed that we are allowed to work only with female-born women, we are deemed to be transphobic,” Kerner told the senate committee.
The BC Federation of Labour has directed its affiliates to boycott the shelter, which is “the oldest rape crisis centre in Canada,” she said.
“And that’s the danger of the legislation: it is not explicitly expressing the rights of women to organize.”
Murphy, who founded the Feminist Current website but testified before the committee as an individual, echoed this.
“Once we start writing into legislation things like gender identity and gender expression, it has the potential to trump women’s rights,” she said.
“We can’t organize as a class of people, as women, as an oppressed class of people if we can’t meet with only other women. And this is a right that all marginalized groups should have,” she said.
Both Kerns and Murphy skewered the bill for not defining “gender expression” and “gender identity.”
Indeed, according to Murphy, the idea of “gender expression” and “gender identity” enforce the very stereotypes of masculinity and femininity that patriarchy came up with and feminism is trying to eradicate.
“Dissolving the categories of man and woman to allow for fluidity may sound progressive but is no more progressive under the current circumstances than saying race doesn’t exist and that white people don’t hold privilege in this world if they don’t feel white, or if they take on racist stereotypes attached to people of colour,” she told the senate committee.
“If a white person did this, we would rightly call it co-optation and denounce the behaviour. Why do we accept that if a man takes on sexist stereotypes traditionally associated with women, he can magically change sex and shed his status as male in this world?”
Kerner said there’s no “consensus in society” as to what the terms mean.
“From our understanding, gender expression describes the behaviours that oppress and control women. That includes men’s violence against women,” she said. “In this context, rape is a gender expression.”
Moreover, “female-born women and people who were born male and self-identify as women have different life experience,” she said.
“We know the embarrassment of having our clothes stained with blood from our period, the anxiety of facing an unwanted pregnancy and the fear of being raped. We know the horror of being raped and we know the comfort of grouping with other women.”
Nor do men who choose to be women have the experience of dealing with patriarchy all their lives.
“What we are saying is: If you were born a female, you are doomed. You are doomed in our society to be second-class. You do not have the privilege of growing as a male and have a choice to choose to be a woman,” she told the committee. “Surely, you cannot say these are the same thing.”
The Vancouver Rape Relief centre has been facing backlash since the CBC ran the story, with a Twitter war erupting between Murphy and the Native Youth Sexual Health Network, in which the latter called on the shelter to close its doors.
Rape crisis centres that don't allow for supports for/employ trans women should not exist. This is anti-violence responses failing. #C16
— NativeYouthSexHealth (@NYSHN) May 12, 2017
The Native Youth Sexual Health Network also dismissed Murphy and Kerns as “TERFs” — “trans-exclusionary radical feminists.”
Nah. Transwomen are women. TERFs don't get to dictate Indigenous understandings of gender. https://t.co/FGUKNVlvVo
— NativeYouthSexHealth (@NYSHN) May 15, 2017
Tanya Granic Allen, the executive of Parents As First Educators and a mother of four, has been campaigning against C-16.
“Women's rights have advanced so far, and yet in 2017 our government is totally ready to throw these right away in favour of a few citizens who identify as transgender?” she told LifesiteNews.
“Is this what Trudeau meant when he declared himself a feminist? If so, his government is actually the biggest threat to feminism today,” added Granic Allen.
“The dignity and rights of women are inherent, and not subject to cultural fads.”
The senate committee on legal and constitutional affairs will hear further public testimony Wednesday on Bill C-16. Dr. Jordan Peterson, who has criticized the bill as a threat to free speech, is among those scheduled to speak.