Feminists say they have been ‘bullied’ over opposition to Canadian trans rights bill
Feminists activists in Canada have said they have been “bullied and blackmailed” by a union group over their opposition to a trans rights bill.
A spokesperson for the Vancouver Rape Relief and Women’s Shelter has expressed concerns over a transgender rights bill C-16.
Hilla Kerner says the bill, which would add “gender identity” and “gender expression” into protected categories in the Canadian Human Rights Act and Criminal Code threatens “female-born” women’s spaces.
The bill passed in the House of Commons in last year and has gone to the Senate.
But Kerner says there “is no social consensus on what these terms mean”.
She spoke at the Red Chamber committee, which was studying the bill, saying that the bill could complicate the process of organising and fighting for women’s rights.
Kerner says women’s groups should have “the right to decide who they will serve and who their members are,” speaking to Heat Street.
The shelter testified at the committee to say that it blocked a trans woman who had undergone gender reassignment surgery from becoming a rape counsellor because she did not have enough “life experience” to warrant the position.
Kerner says that a the British Columbia Federation of Labor, a group of unions, had passed a resolution urging affiliates to avoid donations to “trans* exclusionary organisations”.
The resolution specifically mentioned the Vancouver Rape Relief and Women’s Shelter.
“They are interfering with our political work, our public work,” Kerner says in response to the resolution.
“This is an informal attempt to bully us and blackmail us to change our position.”
She adds: “We cannot have legislation that ignores what it means to be born female… This law is not explicitly calling for that, but surely there will be the implication of forcing the hand of women’s groups to accept self-identified women, even though they lived all their life with male privilege.”
She continues: “We were born without the choice of being a woman or not. People can have whatever feelings they have, but I think it’s a mistake to define womanhood on internal feeling and not based on the experience of woman’s oppression.”
Going on, Kerner says that, in challenging the patriarchy, the organisation has “a lot of sympathy for transgender people.”
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But she urges trans people to start separate and new organisations, saying trans women should not try and use groups catering to those “born female”.
Canada’s High Commission to the UK in London earlier this year installed a gender-neutral toilet to be more trans-inclusive.
A leading feminist writer who appeared on Channel 4 news earlier this year became the latest to deny that trans women are women.
Chimamanda Adichie, who is renowned for her feminist rhetoric and an appearance in Beyoncé videos, appeared on the news programme to discuss the validity of trans women, and proceeded to deny their right to womanhood.
Meanwhile in the US, a group of radical feminists are working alongside ultra-conservative Christians who preach that women must obey their husbands – in order to attack transgender rights protections.