By Catharine MacDonald
LGBT Perspectives guest writer
At both the federal and provincial levels, laws have been enacted that give us the same rights, privileges and responsibilities as every other citizen of whichever province in which we live. As well, at the federal level, and not widely publicized, in February 2016, the Ministry of Citizenship and Immigration quietly announced that Canadian citizens would be allowed to self-identify when it came to changing gender on federal documents, except the passport. You still have paperwork to fill out for that one. Otherwise, all you need is provincial documentation showing the changes to change any other federal ID.
While we revel in our new-found recognition, we must remember that our sisters and brothers south of the Canada/U..S border aren’t so fortunate. The different system of government in the U.S. gives each state power to make its own laws. Consequently, members of the LGBT communities, especially the trans community, face a patchwork of laws with which to conform and hoops of varying sizes at different heights to negotiate to accomplish anything. This is true even with the Obama administration. and from what I’ve seen, the difficulties will only increase under Donald Trump.
I have seen estimates that put the number of trans Americans at 10% of the population, which translates to about 30 million people. To put that in perspective for Canadian readers, that’s only slightly less than the population of Canada. Thirty million souls. Think about that number for a moment. According to pronouncements, both now and in the past, a Trump federal government and states governed by members of Trump’s party are declaring war on these people, either reducing or removing whatever protections previous administrations put in place. Perhaps one of the most egregious of these laws was North Carolina’s infamous HB 2, the so-called “bathroom bill”. From other reading I’ve done — and no, I don’t just rely on a single source for information — this is typical of what our sisters and brothers can expect to face over the next four years.
While we sit here north of the 49th parallel or Great Lakes, perhaps smugly because we haven’t had some of these struggles, we must not forget those who went before us who are the reason we have what we do. We must support our counterparts in the U.S. in any way we can, even if it’s only to offer moral support so that even if they fail, those who follow will enjoy our freedoms.