The U.S. Presidential Election is tomorrow. The polls are tight, and there’s a very real possibility that Donald Trump could become the next president. I hope more than anything that never happens. Donald Trump is not fit to be the U.S. president. He called Mexicans rapists. He wants to ban all members of an entire religion from the United States. He openly bragged about being able to sexually assault women because he’s famous. He has been accused by at least eight women who say he either assaulted, groped or kissed them without consent. And yet, there’s still a chance that this man could be the next American president.
Donald Trump likes to pretend he’s supportive of LGBT rights. But let’s be clear: a Trump presidency would be disastrous for the LGBT community. And as explained in two articles, one by Jay Michaelson at The Daily Beast and one by Kira Brekke at The Huffington Post, here’s why:
Trump has repeatedly promised to appoint conservative Supreme Court judges, who would no doubt be in favour of overturning same-sex marriage rights. His running mate, Governor Mike Pence, may actually be worse than Donald Trump. Pence signed a law that allows discrimination against the LGBT community under the guise of “religious freedom”. He has also endorsed (and wants to fund) the horrible treatment known as “conversion therapy”.
According to the Human Rights Campaign, there is very little methodologically sound research on conversion therapy. In fast, the results of scientific research indicates that it is unlikely that individuals will be able to reduce same-sex attractions through SOCE (sexual orientation change efforts). Conversion therapy is harmful to the LGBT community, especially youth, who are often the ones forced into this by unaccepting families. We already know that unacceptance and prejudice causes harm toLGBT youth. Again, according to the HRC, LGBT youth are more than 8 times as likely to have attempted suicide, more than 6 times as likely to have high levels of depression, more than 3 times as likely to use illegal drugs, and more than 3 times as likely to be at high risk for HIV and other STDs.
Trump has also not been clear on his stance regarding transgender rights. He initially spoke out against North Carolina’s bathroom bill, but later said he supported the state’s right to pass such discriminatory legislation, and he has said he wants to rescind the Department of Education’s guidance to allow transgender youth to use the bathroom of their choice at school.
Even a conservative LGBT group, the Log Cabin Republicans, have said they won’t endorse Donald Trump.
So yes, Donald Trump and Mike Pence in the White House would be terrible for the LGBT community. That much is obvious to sane, intelligent people. But yet, they still have supporters. Anti-LGBT statements don’t seem to be diminishing. Instead, they seem to be increasing as more and more people seem to be embracing the ideas that Trump and Pence perpetuate.
And so, I’m beginning to wonder, are these ideas making their way north of the border? Is Donald Trump’s version of America making its way into Canada?
Before this past week, I’d probably have said, “No way, no how”. But now, I’m not so sure. While I love my country and all of the pro-LGBT laws/demonstrations/etc. that we have here, a couple things in the news recently have me wondering whether anti-LGBT sentiments are spreading here in Canada as well.
The House of Commons recently passed at second reading a bill that will protect the rights of transgender people by adding gender identity and expression to human rights and hate crime laws. It still has to pass a third reading and go before the Senate before it will become law, but I don’t doubt that it will happen because this is Canada and our government usually makes the right calls. But that doesn’t mean the bill doesn’t face opposition.
Recently, a professor at the University of Toronto, Jordan Peterson, spoke about his refusal to use non-binary pronouns—i.e. “they” instead of “he” and “she”. Peterson also has issue with Bill C-16 (the trans rights bill mentioned above). He also takes issue with the Ontario Human Rights Commission’s definition of “gender identity”. Peterson doesn’t believe in political correctness and thinks the government has no right to mandate the words that people speak.
People should have the right to choose which words people use to refer to them. I’m sure that Peterson prefers to be called a “he” and would likely take issue with someone calling him a “she”, so if someone prefers to be called “they”, then that is their choice and his refusal to abide by their wishes undermines their human rights.
Beyond the news about Peterson, there have been two other frightening news stories in the last week or so that I almost don’t want to believe happened in Canada.
The first is about a gamer group in Quebec called ATG that wants everyone to know that its members hate gays. According to Mack Lamoureux at Vice, ATG’s members “[Sport] shirts that say ‘If you’re gay, don’t approach me, I’ll kill you’ in public and [drop] quotes like ‘I hate gays for real’ in interviews with media”. One member of the group openly wore the shirt at a haunted farm event in Ottawa. Not only is this happening in Canada, but it’s happening in Ottawa, which just so happens to be where I freaking live! This is not okay!
As Lamoureux further reports:
Dr. Kristopher Wells, the faculty director of the Institute for Sexual Minority Studies at the University of Alberta, called it “very concerning” to know that this isn’t just a lone wolf situation.
“The shirt goes beyond being offensive,” Wells told VICE. “I think the Ottawa police and the RCMP domestic terrorism group should be investigating this kind of shirt.
“With this kind of rhetoric, it puts citizens on edge wondering when or if this kind of language turn into actual violence. What would actually happen if a gay person went up to these people and did want to, you know, shake their hand?”
Wells said that the shirt in itself is violent and some critics, including lawyers, have said they believe it violates Section 319 of the Canadian Criminal Code which governs hate speech.
One member of the group told CTV News that he believes the shirts should be allowed because of freedom of speech. Ummmmm, freedom of speech does not allow for hate speech. Ughhhh, people.
The second story is about a restaurant in Montreal that tried to bar a transgender woman from using the women’s washroom. According to CBC News:
Estelle Davis told CBC News she was chastised on Tuesday for using the women’s washroom by employees of New System Bar-B-Q, located on Notre-Dame Street.
On her way to the bathroom, she said a staff member yelled at her from across the restaurant and told her that men were prohibited from entering.
“I looked back at her and said ‘That’s perfect cause I’m a woman, so I’m going to go use the washroom,'” said Davis.
“And she said ‘No, that’s for women. You’re a man, you’re not allowed to go in there.'”
Geeeee, I didn’t realize that Quebec had suddenly turned into North Carolina!
I just cannot believe all of the anti-LGBT shit that’s been going down in Canada lately. This is Canada, and I firmly believe we are better than this. But sadly, I’m left wondering if the views of Donald Trump, Mike Pence and others within the Republican Party are having a negative effect on life here in the great white north?
All I know is that I really hope we see Hillary Clinton winning tomorrow’s election, and that from there we see things get better for the LGBT community. Until such a time, my ongoing mission to keep queering the mainstream continues!