Ottawa
3 min

Amanda Ryan’s C-279 letter to senators

A member of Ottawa trans support group Gender Mosaic (GM) has sent an honest and thought provoking letter to Canada’s senators urging them to support Randall Garrison’s federal trans rights bill C-279.
Ryan and GM members Sophia Cassivi, Rachelle Gauvin and Janne Charboneau attended the June 10 Senate committee meeting on human rights that saw a majority of witnesses testify in favour of the bill.
Ryan told Xtra afterwards that she is optimistic the bill will pass but also apprehensive about celebrating too soon.
 
“I am kind of sitting on a bubble right now, and that bubble seems like it’s very fragile,” she said. “The numbers seem to be there, but until the vote and we actually stand up and cheer, I am going to sit on that bubble and hope it doesn’t burst.”
The bill’s Senate sponsor, Grant Mitchell, says he will try to get the bill to third reading before the end of June.
Read Ryan’s full letter below.
 
Dear Senator _________,
My name is Amanda and I am proudly Trans.
I came out of my closet 12 years ago after being firmly entrenched there for 35 years. The closet is a horrible place to be. Nobody should be sentenced to that kind of confinement simply because some segments of society think there is something wrong with us. Lack of visibility combined with a lack of public education make it all too easy to discriminate against us.
 
Much has changed in the 12 years since I have been out of my closet. Things are definitely getting better. The Trans community is becoming more visible and can no longer be ignored. We can no longer be pushed aside as a minor annoyance. We have the right to be the persons we truly are.
It has been suggested by some opponents of Bill C-279 that efforts should be concentrated on helping Trans people find medical assistance rather than on their rights. Well, I did seek out counseling and the help of support groups. When I told the counselor that I crossdressed, she simply said, “So?” Counseling and support groups helped me understand who I truly am and how to deal with this reality. I now understand that there is nothing wrong with me. I am normal. My body simply does not fit the gender I feel within me. I like who I am.
Bill C-279 has been called unnecessary and mostly symbolic. Quite the contrary. This bill is necessary. There are Trans people suffering discrimination on a regular basis. Groups that are promoting misleading concepts such as the “Bathroom Bill” and linking our community to pedophilia are the very reason we need discrimination protection. These are clearly discriminatory statements, bordering on being hate statements. We should be afraid of groups who are unwilling to understand us and unwilling to meet with us, yet actively promote these points of view.
And mostly symbolic? Well no … not mostly. I agree that it has a strong symbolic value in that it would recognize the Trans community as an entity under the law. That would help us a great deal. I want to promote the Trans community to the public as a positive, contributing group of people within society. This bill will help me do that. More importantly, this bill will help Trans people believe in themselves.
 
Discrimination protection for Trans people needs to be explicit. We need to be able to tell employers that they can’t discriminate against someone simply because they are Trans. There are laws against that. There will be a positive impact even if the law is seldom used in a court or a human rights hearing.
 
We need this bill now. Not in the next government or subsequent ones. The amendment to add sex to the Criminal Code, though in itself very valid, could significantly delay or kill this bill entirely. This amendment should be a Government Bill that would easily pass the House and the Senate. This is our time. Let’s prove to the world that we are on the right side of history.
Please help us take these last final steps through the Senate.
 

Amanda Ryan
Gender Mosaic Outreach Committee Chair