Browse By

Feminist Meghan Murphy, National Observer

Share this:

If you are not already convinced of the danger and oppressiveness of Bill C-16, you need to read this excellent article in National Observer by Meghan Murphy, editor of Feminist Current,

There would be some paragraphs that I would heartily disagree with, but here are some highlights:

While the media has framed the debate around gender identity as one of left vs. right, there is a key perspective that is missing from the conversation: the feminist one.

Preventing discrimination is something most of us want to support, but incorporating notions of “gender identity” and “gender expression” into Canadian legislation is not a progressive step. In our desire to be open-minded and inclusive, we have failed to consider how this move poses a risk to sex-based protections for women and girls.

Beyond misguided language there is the fact that we are very quickly pushing through legislation that conflicts with already established rights and protections for women and girls.

Women’s spaces — including homeless shelters, transition houses, washrooms, and change rooms — exist to offer women protection from men. It isn’t men who fear that women might enter their locker rooms and flash, harass, assault, abuse, photograph, or kill them… This reality is often left unaddressed in conversations around gender identity. This reality is sex-based, not identity-based. Men cannot identify their way out of the oppressor class so easily, neither can women simply choose to identify their way out of vulnerability to male violence.

As unpopular as this fact has become, a man or boy who wishes to identify as a woman or girl, perhaps taking on stereotypically feminine body language, hairstyles, and clothing, is still male. He still has male sex organs, which means girls and women will continue to see him as a threat and feel uncomfortable with his presence in, say, change rooms. Is it now the responsibility of women and girls to leave their own spaces if they feel unsafe? Are teenage girls obligated to overcome material reality lest they be accused of bigotry? Is the onus on women to suddenly forget everything they know and have experienced with regard to sexual violence, sexual harassment, and the male gaze simply because one individual wishes to have access to the female change room? Because one boy claims he “feels like a girl on the inside?” And what does that mean, anyway?


*Photo Attribution: Flickr Commons,

Share this: