By Michelle Boyce
LGBT Perspectives columnist
LONDON, Ont. — “Because I said so.”
That is a perfectly normal thing for parents to tell their children, but not so good when you are talking about your gender identity.
The world sits in judgment of the trans population, deciding if they really are who they say they are. Canada’s Parliament — the House of Commons — passed a bill that would have enshrined “Gender Identity and Gender Expression” in the Canadian Criminal Code and Canadian Human Rights as a protected ground, yet the Senate let the bill expire, refusing to pass it for the second time. The Conservatives have run into a road block, and that is: how do you legislate who someone is when your identity is subject to scrutiny. When I say my “faith” is “Christian,” that is an acceptable statement that no one questions, and I am thereby protected by the Human Rights Code from discrimination as a “Christian.”
When I say “I am a woman” or “I am a man,” the world seems to have a different set of rules determining the validity of that statement. Both “faith” and “gender” are something that you feel and are a personal truth, in my opinion, and not to be questioned. I will not look a Christian in the eyes and tell them they are not Christian, nor will I look a woman or man in the eyes and tell them they are not who
they say they are. There is no test that anyone can apply to this person to determine the level of their conviction to their distinct knowledge that they are one or the other(s).
We as a society can attempt to break the person from that belief, as happens all the time in the case of trans people and quite often in the case of religious people. If the person can sustain their belief after large amounts of pressure is put upon them to change, then the common belief is that they are what they say they are, in the absence of anyone’s ability to change them. American-Canadian psychologist and sexologist Ken Zucker practices this routinely with children, bombarding them with behaviour modification techniques.
Can society justify this action — the harm that it does to a person in the process of “breaking” them? How can we expect a person to be healthy after they have been bombarded with such a process of testing their belief?
We’re taught to blame the victim and that only the strong survive. The primal human trait that we need to weed out the weak and promote the strong is exists in the world of gender non-conforming people. “Only the strong will survive” is a statement of truth within the trans community, with approximately 50 percent attempting suicide each year. The WPATH standards ingrain this concept into the hearts and minds of the community itself, where many believe therapy is necessary prior to attempting transition. The test, the breaking, the ever-so-present concept of determining the undeterminable!
We are at a crossroads in society. Since the beginning of time, trans people have walked among us.
When are we going to just believe them “because they say so.”
“Let harmlessness be the keynote of your life.” — Alice Bailey