Archive for December, 2012

My daughter is a thoughtful and talented person who is doing the right thing by transitioning and being true to herself. It’s been a month since she came out as a transgender woman and she has received support from friends, family, clients and strangers. Thank you.

daryl profileShe is a photographer and wants to help increase awareness and acceptance of transgender people. She has started a crowdfunding campaign, The Transgender Experience, a project that will explore what it means to “pass” in society.

I’m reading The Riddle of Gender, by Deborah Rudacille, and a quote in the book comes to mind, “Nature loves diversity; society hates it.” For as long as people have existed, transgender people have existed. Trans people are a minority and not well understood. This has often resulted in prejudice and violence. It is absurd that we would hate or hurt people simply because they are different. Gender variance is part of our human fabric and we need to learn about and accept other people. A trans person could be your child, sibling, parent, grandparent, friend, neighbour, colleague, etc. Learn, accept, become an ally.

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CC manual Speech 9: Persuade with Power

Why you should support Bill C-279

The person I have thought of as my son for the past 32 years recently came out as a transgender woman and my daughter’s happiness fills me with warmth, joy and pride. If you’re like me, you have your own gender identity, you accept and care deeply about the significant people in your life and, you believe in equal human rights.

Madame Toastmaster and fellow Toastmasters tonight I want to increase your awareness of trans people and I want you to show your support for their human rights by writing to your MP and letting them know you support Bill C-279. The Gender Identity bill was introduced by MP Randall Garrison and its purpose is to provide equal human rights protections for trans people in Canada. The House of Commons Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights is currently reviewing the bill. If it’s adopted, the phrases “gender identity” and “gender expression” will be added to the classes offered protections from discrimination under the Canadian Human Rights Act and the Criminal Code.

Education is a key to accepting diversity. I’m still learning but I want to provide a brief overview of gender, transgender and transphobia. Gender is a complex cultural construct and refers to attitudes, feelings and behaviours associated with a person’s sex. Gender exists along a continuum and we may identify as male, female, both, or neither. Gender identity is our innermost sense of self. Sex is our anatomy. If you are a cisgender person your gender identity matches your anatomical sex; that’s not the case for a transgender person.

It’s not known for sure how many trans people there are but researchers estimate that one out of every 300-1,000 people are born feeling that their sex and gender are different. Ignorance and misconceptions about others often results in social and systemic discrimination. Prejudice and fear, transphobia, can manifest itself in violence, harassment and discrimination. Transgender people, like cisgender people, are human beings and trans rights are human rights.

Transgender people experience gender dysphoria. Some try to live according to their physical sex and construct a persona, a mask, to match their body. Living a lie can take a tremendous emotional toll. Expressing one’s true sense of self alleviates the dysphoria but for some the dysphoria is so severe that they need to medically alter their bodies to align with their gender identity.

Back to Bill C-279. Last week the Standing Committee heard arguments against the bill from the group Real Women. They testified that if the bill passes sexual deviants will be able to access women’s washrooms. This is fear mongering. A trans woman’s identity is female and SHE should be able to access a woman’s bathroom, just like any other woman. It’s a matter of equality, respect and dignity.

A large study in the UK documented the experiences of trans people and it included difficulties with accessing a washroom at work. Imagine being told you can’t use the washroom. Imagine being discriminated against when trying to access services, or housing, or employment. Trans rights are human rights.

Real Women also testified that transgender people should receive compassionate counselling and not receive special treatment. Some trans people have severe gender dysphoria, a medical condition, and current science believes the way to treat it is to alter the body to match the brain. We treat cancer, heart disease, and other conditions medically.

My daughter has spent most of her life trying to deny who she is. The older she gets the more severe the dysphoria. Seeing a counsellor and participating in a gender journeys support group has helped her see that she’s not alone. Try to imagine what it’s like to live in a body that you don’t identity with. Try to live out your life in a society where who you really are is rendered invisible.

Now, it’s your turn. All trans people are human beings and deserve equality, dignity and respect. They face many social, economic and institutional barriers. Education and legal protections break down those barriers. Let your MP know that transgender rights are human rights by expressing your support for Bill C-279. … Madame Toastmaster.

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