A recent opinion piece in the National Observer by Meghan Murphy recycles a number of discredited talking points to oppose the passing of Bill C-16, legislation that will update "the Canadian Human Rights Act to add gender identity and gender expression to the list of prohibited grounds of discrimination".
Ms. Murphy's comments are not based on any objective evidence and give cover to bigoted individuals who perpetuate a culture in which shockingly large numbers of transgender individuals are the victims of prejudice, bullying, and physical and sexual assaults.
Ms. Murphy begins her argument with the statement "Preventing discrimination is something most of us want to support, but..."
As Prime Minister Trudeau famously quipped, "it's 2016". There is no longer any room for a "but" after expressing a desire to prevent discrimination. Giving rights to a historically unrecognized minority is good for ALL equity-seeking groups.
Ms. Murphy argues that the sanctity of female-only washrooms is needed as a refuge from the threat of male-perpetuated violence.
This is the same argument legislators in North Carolina (and less famously in Florida, New Hampshire, Maryland, South Dakota, among others) use to defend the anti-LGBTQ "bathroom bills" that have rightfully generated so much controversy: that CIS-gendered women need to fear CIS-gendered male predators dressing up in women's clothes in order to assault them in women's bathrooms.
This argument is not supported by evidence.
13 American states have anti-discrimination laws that specifically recognize the rights of trans people to use the washroom of their choice.
These laws were passed between 1993 and 2011 with the majority passing in the mid-aughts. Officials from all 13 states agree that there have been no incidents of the sort that Ms. Murphy uses to justify denying legal rights to trans individuals.
As the current level of voter support enjoyed by the Republican nominee for President of the United States shows, there is an intolerable amount of misogyny that exists in our society.
There is no doubt that all women live their lives under threat of male-perpetrated violence.
I would like to think we can all agree that violence against women, all women, must be stopped, yet Ms. Murphy seems dismissive of violence perpetrated against trans women since, in her view, they are not women at all.
Ms. Murphy denies the very existence of trans women with her assertion that "As unpopular as this fact has become, a man or boy who wishes to identify as a woman or girl, perhaps taking on stereotypically feminine body language, hairstyles, and clothing, is still male".
This incendiary statement fails to recognize that gender, like sexual orientation, is not binary and thus is deeply, deeply offensive.
It is important that our society discuss the need for legal protections for minority groups while our government considers Bill C-16.
We can do without arguments like the ones Ms. Murphy makes as they perpetuate harmful stereotypes, conflate opinion with fact, and present a real danger to the mental and physical well being of trans people.