Wednesday, September 16, 2009

If You Are Trans No Canadian Forces For You

image Here we go again with tolerant and accepting Canada.  If you have been following trans activism in Canada, you know that SRS has been delisted in a few provinces and that trans women have been denied care at a medical clinic.  A trans identity has been treated as though it is a pathology and this has specifically served to “other” transgender people, thus denying them access to treatment that other Canadians have.

In the latest round of transphobia,

The federal human rights tribunal ruled Tuesday that the Canadian Forces did not discriminate against Micheline Montreuil, one of Canada's best-known transgendered people, when they refused to enrol her.

Montreuil, who was born as a man named [male name redacted], underwent hormone therapy to grow breasts and changed her name to Micheline after a lengthy court battle.

Montreuil joined the Canadian Forces in 1997 but handed in her resignation the same year for work-related issues and to start a sex-change process.

In 1999 Montreuil reapplied for enrolment in the Forces but her application was denied because doctors ruled she suffered from chronic gender identity issues. She filed a complaint with the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal in 2002, arguing she was rejected because of her transgender condition.

After 97 days of hearings, between 2006-2007, the tribunal ruled Montreuil did not offer substantial evidence that she was subjected to discrimination.

What scares me about this story, is that it occurred in Quebec.  For those that are not Canadian, Quebec, is the most liberal province in Canada.  If a trans woman can be declared as suffering from a “chronic gender identity issues,” in Quebec, what kind of message does this send to the more conservative provinces?

The war against the trans community has been escalating ever since the Kimberly Nixon decision.  It seems that by ruling in favour of transphobia, it has opened the door to the provincial governments to discriminate at will.   Incidents like this prove the ways in which cissexism is institutional.  The courts and the government seem to forget that our trans citizens pay taxes like everyone else and are entitled to equality under law. Legalizing oppression is the opposite of what Canada is supposed to stand for.

It is a well known fact that trans people are economically marginalized and therefore it is difficult for them to fight these cases.  It forces them to use valuable resources that could used for education, outreach and other organizing initiatives. I fear that these rulings are only the first in a long line of legally entrenching cissexism.  in Canada.