If the Liberal government of Canada has its way, it will soon be possible for me – or you – to change your sexual identity with the stroke of a pen.
Legislation tabled Tuesday May 17 would amend the Human Rights laws to protect individuals who identify with a sex other than the one with which they were biologically born. The goal is to ensure that transgender individuals are treated equally to those who identify with their biological sex. And that is the reason the legislation is right. There should be no bias in the workplace, or the courts, or in society as a whole, against people who choose to be male, even if they have female “parts.” Or vice versa.
That’s because, as a society – in Canada as well as the U.S. – we value the pursuit of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. On the first point, we protect life; on the second, we promote liberty. And it’s to this third point, that we should consider transgender rights most relevant.
Practically, the legislation means that I could, if I wish, change my legal identification to indicate that I am male. What would this mean in practice? Well, it would mean that I would be listed as male for anything health related, for legal reasons, and my certificate of birth and/or death would indicate that I was male. It would be interesting to see the ramifications on genealogical research in a century, if the records misrepresent the biological sex of a family member. But perhaps there would be no ramification. It would also be interesting to see the ramifications on border security, at least in the initial phase of the new genderless world. Again, perhaps there would be no surprise.
Some purists who are opponents of gender swapping point to other reason the practice should be avoided; namely, religious dicta. This is simply distraction from the true conversation. At its centre, the conversation must revolve around the value we hold in individualism, in the right of each human being to pursue what makes them happy. We do limit this right, when it endangers life, or another’s liberty.
When I was little everyone thought I was a boy because I had short hair. It bothered me. But really, it shouldn’t have. I would prefer a society where that wouldn’t have bothered me. Limiting the rights of people who identify alternatively to their biological sex – or for that matter, those who identify as “genderless” – is simply wrong. It may be impractical in some senses, but it is certainly not wrong. In fact, it is wrong to do anything but.