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Cats and dogs seem to matter more to the ruling BC Liberals than trans persons.

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The Apparent Hypocrisy of British Columbia’s Elected Liberal Government


The same week that Transgender advocates and allies stood in front of the BC Legislature in support of the introduction of a private member’s bill aimed at protecting the rights of transgender people, the BC Liberal Government announced an order-in-council that adopts the Canadian Veterinary Medical Association’s Codes of Practice for both kennel and cat breeding.

Indeed, this is very good news for dogs and cats in British Columbia.

Yet, this same Government has sat intentionally on it’s laurels, refusing to pass an exact version of the “trans rights bill” on three previous occasions. This is the fourth time the Honourable Spencer Chandra Herbert, MLA for Vancouver-West End, introduces this bill. The bill would amend the BC Human Rights Code (BCHRC) to include “gender identity and gender expression.”

Having “gender identity and gender expression” included in the BCHRC will afford increased protection, safety, and equity for transgender and gender-variant persons in at least three significant and compelling ways: 
  1. It will help educate the public
  2. It will inform the way organizations and companies implement their HR policies by providing an explicit statement of protection 
  3. It will clarify the code and hopefully mitigate and help resolve contentious situations—including discrimination—before they escalate to expensive, lengthy, and onerous legal actions for all parties.
This logic has so far failed to influence the Primier, Christy Clark and her Minister of Justice, Suzanne Anton, who refuses to bring this bill to a vote. But when it comes to cats and dogs, this government clearly recognizes the importance of explicit language in the law.

B.C. Agriculture Minister Norm Letnick alluded to the importance of specificity; he is quoted in a CBC story as saying:  

“What this will do, is it will provide clarity to breeders of dogs and cats of what the standards of care are in B.C. and will also provide that same clarity to judges and the SPCA as they go about their work to bring people into alignment with that.” 

The trans community has had to listen to the Government’s shallow argument the BCHRC already offers all the protection we need under the category of “sex.” That sounds like how it was for cats and dogs until this new order-in-council came to their rescue. 

It was noted BC already relied on the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act to help regulate and police breeders. Yet codes will now be added as a new regulation along with the act. Why can’t trans persons be at the receiving end of this kind of humane legal consideration?

Do we not matter at least as much as pets? If it would help our cause, I’m willing to sit on the Liberals’ lap and wag my tail—no licking or sniffing, though.

All kidding aside, this is serious business. 

Why is the Liberal Government willing to act on the recommendation of pet experts but disregards their own human experts within the Ministry of Health, the World Professional Association for Transgender Health, and more significantly, the United Nations Human Rights Council resolution on Human rights, sexual orientation and gender identity (adopted 26 September 2014 - A/HRC/RES/27/32)?

BC has fallen behind other Canadian Provinces and Territories which have already amended their codes to include gender identity and gender expression—and will soon be overtaken by the Federal Government as well. This is especially sad—and disappointing—since BC amended the BCHRC to include sexual orientation in 1992, 24 years ago. Then, in 2003 became the second province to legalize same-sex marriages. Why the delay and outright refusal to include explicit protection for transgender and gender non-conforming persons?*

We’ve tried having a civil conversation, but this has failed. It’s time to shame them for their hypocrisy.

*This paragraph was added May 1, 2016 @ 5:33 a.m.


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