Christin Milloy:

Rise up and seize equality

Conservative Senator Caught in Bald-Faced Lie in attack on Human Rights Bill


The Honourable Donald Neil Plett needs to get his facts straight… Or perhaps he was deliberately counting on the ignorance of those who were listening to him speak in yesterday’s Senate debate.

The subject was bill C-279, which would finally give equal human rights protections for Gender Identity at the Federal level in Canada. If it doesn’t advance in Senate debate very soon, it will die when the federal election is called next year.

It’s not the first time that Conservative Canadian legislators, and ministries controlled by them, have resorted to lies and preyed upon fear in order to attack Trans* people, but this is possibly the most graphic and disgusting incident yet. This latest example carries a sharp sinister undertone of threat: once again advancing a dangerous and harmful mythic stereotype of the Conservative mindset, the association of Trans* women with sexual predators.

Trigger warning: sexual assault. Emphasis added.

Don_Plett_2009[1]Honourable senators, in January of 2012, two women — a survivor of domestic violence from Ontario, and a deaf and homeless woman from Quebec — sought solace at the Fred Victor women’s shelter in Toronto. The shelter prides itself in serving as a safe place for women with extremely difficult histories.

(…)

After going to sleep one night in this new-found haven, these two women were awoken by a man sexually assaulting them — a convicted rapist. You are probably wondering how this could possibly happen. How did this man sneak into a highly secure shelter and gain access to these women’s bedrooms?

Honourable senators, the fact of the matter is, because of a law in Ontario nicknamed “Toby’s Law,” no sneaking was required. A convicted sex offender named Christopher Hambrook was given access to a women’s shelter, and even women’s bedrooms, because he falsely claimed to be transgender. Hambrook called himself Jessica and was invited in to sleep at the shelter and, in fact, in a bedroom with two women. Requiring no documentation and no background check, he simply said, “I’m Jessica,” and, because of Toby’s Law in Ontario, he was welcomed into a shelter full of vulnerable women — and welcomed with open arms. Toby’s Law in Ontario makes it illegal to discriminate on gender identity. This exists in three provinces in our country and now has the risk of being enacted federally.

Honourable senators, I am asking you to please consider the safety of women and children and vote against Bill C-279.

Let’s do Plett the honour and respect of taking his narrative at face value. The Toronto Sun reported the same storyTwo women were attacked and raped in a women’s shelter by a man who had gained access by claiming a Trans* identity. Plett says it happened because of Toby’s Law, Ontario’s Human Rights amendment which included the protected grounds of Gender Identity and Expression.

These attacks occurred in January of 2012. Toby’s Law did not pass into law until five months later, on the 19th of June 2012.

The Fred Victor Women’s Housing Center did not admit Mr. Hambrook because of Toby’s Law (which did not exist at that time). In actual fact, the shelter has been supportive and inclusive of Trans* women for years, and even runs a Trans* support group. Allowing Hambrook access was clearly a tragic mistake, but the policy of accommodating  Trans* people is not to blame—a serial raping criminal who lied through his teeth was the problem here.

Remember that a real sexual assault occurred, and we must not in any way minimize the trauma committed upon the two victims. Conservative Senator Donald Neil Plett is taking political advantage of the victimization of these women, jamming it together with his own oppressive agenda against Trans* people, and using vicious lies as the glue to make it stick.

Plett’s logic is a hateful house of cards waiting for the gust of common sense and compassion to knock it down. Consider the following. Because a sick and twisted predator, a man and serial rapist, committed a terrible crime against two women… and because in the course of committing that crime, he falsely claimed a Trans* identity in order to take advantage of accommodation measures in place (secondarily victimizing the Trans* community in the process)… therefore, we must deprive all real Trans* people of their human rights.

Let’s play the “hypothetical scenario” game. Say you run a secure environment, where people need to be searched before being allowed in. One day, a man presents himself as severely disabled, in a wheelchair, but is in actuality fully able-bodied and is only pretending. By taking advantage of accommodative measures provided to those in mobility devices (let’s say, bypassing metal detectors), this man is able to sneak a gun into the venue, subsequently jumping out of his borrowed wheel-chair to go on a shooting rampage harming many and making national news. Solution: Blame Human Rights protections for disabled people, and ban all wheelchairs. Right, Senator Plett?

There’s one more inconvenient truth that Mr. Plett has misrepresented to his fellow Senators and to the Canadian people. The federal Human Rights Act (and by extension, C-279) would not even have jurisdiction over access-to-service policies at urban homeless shelters. As a Senator, he knows this (or he ought to). So even if it were ethically justifiable to suppress the federal human rights of all Trans* people as a measure to prevent these rare criminal occurrences (committed at the hands of lying men), the strategy would not even work. Even if his facts were true, the very premise of his argument is a lie, intended to mislead people into supporting the continued legislative oppression of non-cis people.

Tell this unelected liar what you think of his fearmongering: his contact information is below. But also, write to all Senators (especially the ones from your province) and tell them we need equal human rights protections for Gender Identity now. Support C-279, currently bogged down in the Senate.

Senator Donald Neil Plett – Conservative Party of Canada
Province: Manitoba
Appointed on the advice of: Harper (C)
Telephone: 613-992-0180 or 1-800-267-7362
Fax: 613-992-0186
Email: don.plett@sen.parl.gc.ca

The Honourable Donald Neil Plett
Senator
Room 276, East Block
Ottawa Ontario , K1A 0A4

10 Comments

  1. Dawna
    Friday, 2014.06.06 at 14:23

    Someone who is truly transgender (M2F) is unhappy about having a penis, and is very unlikely to expose it to others let alone use it as a male does.

    • Christin Scarlett Milloy
      Saturday, 2014.06.07 at 01:00

      Sorry Dawna, but that’s not the case. There are many women who don’t experience dysphoria about their penises… We must remember that their gender identities are just as valid and worthy of acknowledgement and respect as our own. Ditto non-binary folk.

      If there’s one lesson that gender transition should teach you, it’s that when a person says to you “my gender identity is [insert new concept here]” your answer should be “Alright. I respect that.” Even if you don’t understand, at first.

      • Zaron
        Monday, 2015.03.30 at 04:27

        But you still have to recognise that the fact that only a small minority of trans people would feel comfortable enough with their penis to do those things means that their concerns are based on a propagandic characterisation of trans women.

      • No.
        Thursday, 2016.05.12 at 10:42

        No. You morons don’t get to colonize my or anyone else’s reactions to anything. This stupidity is on the wrong side of history, and must go away. Now.

  2. Dawna
    Friday, 2014.06.06 at 14:24

    Someone who is truly transgender (M2F) is unhappy about having a penis, and is very unlikely to expose it to others let alone use it as a male does.

  3. Susan Gapka
    Saturday, 2014.06.07 at 22:26

    As offensive as the Senator’s comments are; C279 was referred to Committee.

  4. Friday, 2014.12.19 at 14:13

    As someone who has promoted human rights, I have also dealt with the issue of a transgender person, living with other women at those women’s shelters in Toronto. It is also a common practice at those women shelters. There is the story of one of them, that was so insensitive to the situation of a Muslim woman that was also forced, against her religious and cultural background, to share a bedroom with a male, who is also recognized as a female, and the fact that this transgender female was also abusive to her. I did managed to get her some help,at the time many years ago, by contacting the Director of a Muslim organization, because the shelter would also not take any steps on its own to address the problem.
    This is also common practice at all of the women shelters in Toronto. Some women are also extremely uncomfortable getting dressed, or undressed, in front of other transgender females at those shelters. They are physically males and with male hormones and all of that. I do respect the rights of a transgender person to live as they choose, but this lifestlye should not be forced upon other women who may also have a problem with it.
    There are many vulnerable women in those shelters and some of them are also coming, directly, from other abusive situations with men. Some women at the shelters also has to deal with past abusive situations with men, such as incest. A transgender female just brings back all of the trauma to the forefront for those women and they also have a hard time dealing with the situation. It is akin to being raped, in my opinion, because the situation is also forced upon those women against their will. They either share a bedroom with a transgender female, or else lose their beds at the shelter. It should not be so. No one should be forced to look at someone’s penis, and neither should they also be subjected, to someone else staring at their breasts, when they are getting dressed. And this is also what happens at the women shelters with transgender females. Some are decent people , but most are drug addicts and are violent and abusive to the staff and to other residents. The city should address this problem, instead of also forcing this situation upon vulnerable women at those shelters.

    • Christin Scarlett Milloy
      Wednesday, 2015.02.18 at 18:10

      Would you use the same argument to support the idea that there should be “whites only” shelters, in order to support the “comfort” of abuse survivors who happen to be racist?

      Trans women aren’t men.

      Christin Milloy

  5. Robin
    Thursday, 2015.03.12 at 21:00

    Here in USA where many “gender rights”laws are being reviewed, it is almost a requirement that if a person identifies with another gender, their appearance substantiates the gender identity. Now there are differences in gender roles, “frilly” to “tomboy”, but a beard is clearly out. You will not begin hormone therapy in USA until you identify with and demonstrate a realistic gender role.

    • Christin Scarlett Milloy
      Friday, 2015.04.10 at 22:41

      Yes, that’s definitely true, but let’s work to destroy that prejudice within one generation. If you can grow a beard on estrogen, and want to, more power to you. Respect others’ boundaries, and you’ll get no argument from me– Nor should you from other people!

      Christin

2 Trackbacks

  1. […] I’m including the link in a footnote bc I want to trigger warn for sexual assault, rape, and transmisogyny. Especially if you google the name. This particular link gives details but isn’t too sensationalist, please keep all warnings in m… ↩ […]

  2. By Who’s Who in the Loo – Snowbird of Paradise on Tuesday, 2016.03.29 at 14:56

    […] in Canada, in trying to defeat a human rights bill, referred to one instance of a cis male who pretended to be transgender. The man had been admitted to a women’s shelter and sexually assaulted two women there.  As […]

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Christin Milloy