Letter: Yes to Bill C-16

Tuesday, March 21 2017

This letter has been sent to Canadian Senators before they vote on Bill C-16, a bill that proposes to protect Canadians from discrimination on the basis of gender identity and gender expression.

My name is Leaf Kotasek, I am a nonbinary transgender person, and I urge you to vote in favour of Bill C-16. As a transgender Canadian, I face discrimination on the basis of my gender identity and my gender expression. I understand that it is often impossible to prove that you have been denied health care, education, or employment due to discrimination, but I believe that explicitly protecting the human rights of transgender Canadians will discourage our oppressors. I also believe that Bill C-16 will embolden transgender Canadians to stand up for ourselves; it is easier to stand up for yourself day after day when your own government has your back.

I would also like to voice my disgust with the term “Bathroom Bill” that is often applied to Bill C-16. This bill is not mainly about bathrooms. The persistent emphasis on which bathrooms transgender people use and how we use them is invasive. This bill is about whether my ex-GP had the right to refuse to treat my chronic respiratory issues after I came out to him as transgender. It is about whether women’s shelters have the right to send transgender women to men’s shelters. It is about the high rate of suicide among transgender people due to minority stress. And yes, it is about whether transgender people should be so afraid to use public bathrooms that many of us limit our water intake rather than risk using public bathrooms. Furthermore, when transgender people are barred from using gender-appropriate public bathrooms, we are effectively excluded from schools, workplaces, hospitals, and other public spaces. If this bill is to be known as “the Bathroom Bill,” let it be in acknowledgement that the accessibility of bathrooms dictates the overall accessibility of public space.

This is a matter of human rights. I see no reason why transgender Canadians should not have the same rights that cisgender Canadians enjoy. Please vote Yes to Bill C-16. Thank you for your time.


~ Leaf Kotasek