Gender identity or expression was finally added to Canada’s human rights law in 2017 after decades of legal battles and advocacy. Not everyone immediately understands everyone else’s equality, and we again face a growing discriminatory campaign in Canada this week. It’s time for everyone to please lend a hand to address this…again.
My name is Morgane Oger. I am a transgender mom raising two teenagers in Vancouver while working in tech management. I previously served as a DPAC chair in the Vancouver Board of Education and Vice President of a major provincial political party. As a result of a searing precedent-setting legal battle with an anti-SOGI activist outraged a Trans woman was a candidate in the 2017 BC Provincial election, I founded the Morgane Oger Foundation, which advocates for narrowing the gap between Canada’s laws and the reality faced by marginalized communities using education, advocacy and the law. Our organization also helps people engaged in the human rights process complaining of discrimination due to disability, sex, indigenous status, and gender identity by government institutions.
As the planned upcoming One Million Person March 4 Children approaches, I feel it is crucial to address the concerns that fuel this movement, whose demands include excluding transgender people from many aspects of everyday life.
I am deeply concerned about such attempts to undermine the hard-won equality rights of transgender Canadians, some of which were won over two decades ago.
As Canadians, we pride ourselves on being a diverse and inclusive nation where everyone should feel safe and respected, irrespective of their beliefs. However, it is disheartening to witness the resurgence of baseless fears and hatred aimed at transgender individuals and others in our community - and the distress this antagonism is causing.
“Hands Off Our Kids” movements like this latest one threaten Canada's unity and inclusivity. Although targeting a group for exclusion by fostering mistrust and divisions through cynical misinformation and misconceptions is deeply unethical, discriminatory spasms like this appear all too regularly. In recent months, transgender women, queer artists, government workers protecting Trans kids from abuse, and LGBT advocates have been consistently accused of inappropriate motives by highly-vocal but previously unknown groups selling a baseless narrative that is both distressing and contrary to the Canadian values of respect and inclusivity.
While personal views on gender identity are both acceptable and protected in Canada, it is crucial to remember that Canadian law also protects the rights of all citizens to live free from discrimination or violence spurred by others’ personal views.
Unfortunately, some individuals advocate for excluding the existence of transgender people from our educational curriculum, contradicting the spirit of Canadian multiculturalism. Embracing diverse cultures and identities strengthens our community rather than diminishing it. It also prepares our children for when they have to work well alongside people with different experiences and different biases.
It is essential to approach differences with empathy and understanding. Fostering respectful dialogue and consensus is always better than protecting existing rights through the courts.
Pathologizing, vilifying or demonizing people for being part of a recognizable group can be a criminal offence, as can calling for their regulation, prohibition or extermination. The same applies to hounding people or interfering with their use of public or private property to the extent that it interferes with the lawful use of the space.
Advertising or encouraging explicitly prohibited discrimination is unlawful in Canada, and this includes discrimination driven by bias against people because of any protected characteristic, including their gender identity or expression or their sexual orientation. In the words of BC Human Rights Commissioner Kasari Govender in a September 19 Twitter thread: “Denying the very existence of trans and gender diverse people—including calls to erase trans and LGBTQ2SAI+ people from our province’s curricula—is hate, and hate should have no place in our community or in our schools.”
As Canadians, we share a collective interest in promoting critical, respectful engagement with political dialogue to help prevent bias-driven crimes. I believe everyone understands the broader implications of hate propaganda and its potential to incite violence against marginalized groups. I urge anti-SOGI protesters to reassess their actions and consider their broader impact on our community and children.
Demanding state discrimination targeting people because they are different or do not share your values was never the answer to addressing parental difficulties in maintaining a meaningful and trusting dialogue with our own children. Instead, let’s work together for a Canada defined by respect and inclusivity, where every individual is valued for their intrinsic worth and their contributions to society, regardless of personal characteristics.
Morgane Oger is the founder and director of the Vancouver-based Morgane Oger Foundation, which works to combat discrimination, and a former provincial and Vancouver municipal council and school board candidate.