So a few weeks ago, the Canadian senate voted on a bill that then got royal assent the following Friday officially labelled C-16. More colloquially it was called the “Trans Rights Bill”.[note] I don’t envy much of the U.S. political or legal system these days, but they do kick our asses in naming their bills, don’t they?[/note]
The bill actually failed to pass a couple times prior. In both cases blocked by the senate due to the tireless efforts of a senator and full time old crank Don Plett. And boy did Plett try his darndest to once again enforce his biases upon this country because, dammit, he’s gonna be the arbiter of all that is “proper” if it’s the last thing he does(gods willing, it will be).
It passed this time in a faith-in-humanity-restoring 67-11 with only three people abstaining. And lo did the bigots cry foul. People from the Ezra Levant camp of How-Can-People-be-This-Cartoonishly-Vile-and-Stupid to American Republicans and Trumpsters poking their noses in thinking we’re one of their states and decrying “This ain’t constitutional!” (you could tell when they’re American or just wanna-be Americans when they start calling the Charter ‘The Constitution’ or refer to its definitions or laws within under American amendment names).
Our not-so-favourite shitheel of a professor Jordan Peterson, riding the cash train of crowndfunded shitheelery also used his pulpit to use his ‘Academic Legal Opinion’ (as a biology professor decried by other biology professors) to decry this bill both during the senate hearings(during which he was refuted by actual, you know, legal professionals) as well as the internet hate machine.
The points of contention appeared to be the following:
- The misgendering of someone would be ‘hate speech’ and therefore punishable by jail or civil lawsuit. [note] A talking point I’d hear constantly was that this would ‘force people to use certain pronouns against their will, making it ‘compelled speech'[/note]
- Would compel people to “go against science” under the presumption that there were “only two genders” and therefore would establish “legal precedent” for politics and “political correctness” to overrule “reality”. (I bet you can just imagine the reddit, Facebook and Twitter posts already).
So, as you would expect, that’s all hogwash.
What, exactly, is in the bill that’s got all the “I thrive on ruining someone else’s day” crowd all in a flutter, fleeing to their safe spaces comprising of “man caves”, “bowling alleys”, “club houses”, “reddit channels” or “church groups?”
Well, let’s look at the abstract of the bill itself:
This enactment amends the Canadian Human Rights Act to add gender identity and gender expression to the list of prohibited grounds of discrimination.
The enactment also amends the Criminal Code to extend the protection against hate propaganda set out in that Act to any section of the public that is distinguished by gender identity or expression and to clearly set out that evidence that an offence was motivated by bias, prejudice or hate based on gender identity or expression constitutes an aggravating circumstance that a court must take into consideration when it imposes a sentence.
That’s not a paraphrase. That’s the text of the official summary of the bill itself. Doesn’t seem that scary, does it? So let’s use that to break down some of the silliness being regurgitated by the knee-jerk “FREE SPEECH!”[note]Rae’s Law: If you unironically and unacedamically use ‘free speech’ in any internet comment or in reference to anything dealing with minorities or vulnerable populations you are probably a terrible person or justifying your own terrible behaviour [/note] crowd.
This will hamper free speech!
No. This doesn’t disallow by law any speech that was allowed previously. If you were calling people terrible or hurtful things before C-16 and it wasn’t already covered by something that is considered criminal behaviour(more on this shortly), you’re ability to be human swine is unimpacted by this bill.
Using a pronoun other than that preferred by the person to which you are addressing would be considered criminal harassment!
This is the one most echoed by most anti-political-correctness-unless-dealing-with-themselves minutely minded as well as the lovely hate-exploiter Jordan Peterson. It’s also, unsurprisingly, false. Let’s read the actual definition of Criminal Harassment as defined in the criminal code of Canada.
264 (1) No person shall, without lawful authority and knowing that another person is harassed or recklessly as to whether the other person is harassed, engage in conduct referred to in subsection (2) that causes that other person reasonably, in all the circumstances, to fear for their safety or the safety of anyone known to them.
So even if you misgender me intentionally, are you in violation of the above? Would I fear for my safety or the safety of my family if you call me “sir” or “he”? No, obviously. If you organise a lynch mob to do so repeatedly, dox me or send unsolicited hate mail to my family, then yes, that would be criminal harassment. Which is pretty obvious, right?
If a targeted campaign to attack me on my gender identity occurs at my workplace where I fear my job or safety at my job(which in turn I use to get the necessities of life) then that too could be construed criminal harassment though with a harder case to be made in court.
You being an asshole and calling me “shemale” would not be criminal harassment. It would just be an awful thing to do and signs you’re probably an awful person. That’s it. A legally protected, even now, awful person.
It would be a Hate Crime to disrespect a trans person.
This is arguably the same as the point above but I want to touch on what “hate crime” means. A “hate crime” is a crime motivated by hate directed at a vulnerable or minority group. In other words, if you’re not committing a crime, you can’t be committing a hate crime. Pretty simple stuff.
The argument for or against the effectiveness of adding additional criminal consequences to a crime based on the motivation being prejudice aside, just don’t commit a crime in the course of your day hating people for stupid reasons, and you won’t be impacted.
This is a slippery slope!
If the slope was gonna get slippery, it’d already have been teflon by now. We already explicitly lay out vulnerable groups in the Charter. Trans people are obviously as or more vulnerable than gay people(to say nothing of gay trans people, or especially trans people of colour), which is already listed in the Charter. This is a controlled and natural extension. The fixing of an oversight. It is not the path to some government thought control (which is ironically usually accused by those who currently outwardly flaunt their support of fascist ideology).
So, to summarize:
Bill C-16 does not prevent nor punish you from misgendering a trans person. Consequences faced will be those typically suffered by those just being terrible people.
Bill C-16 doesn’t make being charged for a hate crime any easier that it was already. You still need to commit an actual crime.
Bill C-16 doesn’t expand what is meant by criminal harassment. Unless you’re lynching, doxing or otherwise attacking someone, a charge of criminal harassment is unlikely.
So rejoice, shitheels of Canada. Your constitutional right to be awful remains protected.