In 1916 when Manitoba was the first province to give women the vote, I am certain that there were people who argued that the country wasn’t “ready” for it. When Rosa Parks in 1955 decided to disobey the bus driver’s order to move to the back, she faced more than her share of disapproval. The fact is, the fight for equality is always an uphill battle, and sometimes it takes people breaking or bending the rules to get there.
You may not be aware, but transgender people are not protected from discrimination in the Human Rights code of Canada. They are also one of the most vulnerable demographics for violence, discrimination, and abuse. In the media, transgender people and issues regarding anything beyond strict adherence to traditional gender roles is almost exclusively portrayed in a negative light or as something to be mocked. People like Jenna Talackova face the threat of violence and harassment on a daily basis.
Your column begins with an insult in the title, calling Jenna Talackova a “he”. That is an insult to her, and to all transgender people, and a clear sign that they are still not regarded as equals for who they are, and instead must face constant discrimination for something that is beyond their control and does not harm anyone.
Transgender people face a catch-22 when asked to state their gender on a form. If a transgender person states the gender they identify as, they risk being called a liar or worse, and if they state the gender they were born as or assigned, they cause confusion when they present as something completely different. Imagine if you were told every day that you were not a woman? No matter what you feel, deep in your core, every person you met told you that you were wrong. How is that any way to live?
This is clearly a case of discrimination, and just like before women got the vote and before the civil rights movement, it is an uphill battle to convince the rest of the world that there is a problem. Well, there is a problem and it isn’t with transgendered people, it’s with the rest of us.