Federal trans bill debate Dec 7

Trans community holds its breath

UPDATE DEC 8, 6PM – Bill C-389, which would extend rights to trans people, passed a vote on report stage in the House of Commons on December 8 with 143 votes for, and 136 against. Five Conservatives voted for the bill, three Liberals against, and there were three abstentions.
Read Xtra reporter Dale Smith’s latest story.

The debate on C-389 was posponed until December 8. Xtra will report on events as they unfold.

DEC 7, 1pm – All eyes will be on Parliament Hill Dec 7 for the historic debate on Bill C-389, which effectively gives transgendered people basic human rights.

“The first hour of debate on third reading of my [New Democratic Party MP Bill Siksay] private member’s Bill C-389, giving equal protection for trans people under Canadian law will be on Dec 7 at about 5:30pm,” (UPDATE DEC 7: Siksay’s latest update: “Consideration of the bill will start after some votes, which take place at 6:00pm Eastern.”)

If passed, the bill will enshrine “gender identity” and “gender expression” in the Canadian Human Rights Act and Criminal Code legislation.

“Gender equality is not yet covered by the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, and we need that,” says Nichola Ward, who will be co-chairing the upcoming trans-focused Pride Community Advisory Panel session on Dec 9 at the 519 Church Street Community Centre. She is also the founder of transrights.ca.

Ward chatted with Xtra following the Dec 6 panel session at the University of Toronto. When asked about the bill, she takes a deep breath and puts her hands over her mouth, shaking her head.

“This is the closest we have ever gotten. It is now in its third reading,” she says. “So if you have any idols that you pray to, give us your prayers if you can.”

Ward says the bill likely won’t be voted in on Dec 7. She just hopes it’s passed before another election is called. Susan Gapka, chair of the Trans Human Rights Campaign, says the vote will be in the new year. Then the bill will be off to the Senate if adopted at third reading.

“Surprisingly, there has been quite a bit of resistance to this, which is shocking to me,” Ward says. “Why would anyone resist this? Some of the more right-wing members of Parliament have taken a hard-line position on this.”


Previously, Siksay introduced Bill C-392 in 2005 and C-326 in 2007, but both bills died when a federal election was called. Siksay then introduced the current attempt, Bill C-389, in May 2009.

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