Tory MP angers transgender community with petition against gender rights

Andy Radia
Politics Reporter
Canada Politics

Tory MP Rob Anders just can't seem to stay away from controversy this week.

Just days after he was quoted as saying that Thomas Mulcair "helped to hasten Jack Layton's death" he's now gone and publicly insulted a whole 'community.'

[ Related: NDP MP Peter Stoffer lashes out at colleague Rob Anders' 'stupid' Layton comments ]

The member of parliament for Calgary West has posted a strangely-worded petition on his website asking Parliamentarians to vote no to a private members' bill on transgender rights. Bill C-279, introduced by NDP MP Randall Garrison, would essentially protect "gender identity" and "gender expression" rights in the both the Canadian Human Rights Act and the Criminal Code.

Anders seems to worry, however, that the Bill would allow male sexual predators to dress up as women to enter lady's washrooms and change rooms; he — and others — dub it the "Bathroom Bill."

Here's the preamble to his petition that was flagged by CBC News:

"We, the undersigned, citizens of Canada, draw the attention of the House of Commons to the following:

That Bill C-279, also known as the 'Bathroom Bill', is a Private Members Bill sponsored by B.C. NDP MP Randall Garrison and its goal is to give transgendered men access to women's public washroom facilities.

And that it is the duty of the House of Commons to protect and safeguard our children from any exposure and harm that will come from giving a man access to women's public washroom facilities.

Therefore your petitioners call upon the House of Commons to vote Nay on the 'Bathroom Bill'."

Anders isn't the only one who feels this way.

In 2011, during an earlier incarnation of  the proposed legislation, the Campaign Life Coalition suggested that the Bill would result in "male cross-dressers and male drag Queens the legal right to use girls bathrooms."

"This bathroom bill is potentially dangerous because it may create the legitimized access that sexual predators often seek," the pro-life group said on its website.

"Imagine a young girl - your daughter or granddaughter - goes into a washroom and finds a man there."

Needless to say, Anders' petition has angered some in the transgendered community.

"The suggestion that this is somehow some nexus of I don't know; conspiracy of trans-people to sneak into bathrooms deliberately to harm people it's ludicrous," transgender advocate Jan Buterman told CBC News.

"Trans people have been using bathrooms all over Canada for decades with as far as I know, zero evidence of any incidents whatsoever."

[ Related: Did Tory MP Rob Anders fall asleep in public, again? ]

Anders' petition has also disappointed — but not surprised — the sponsor of the Bill.

"I think his petition is based on ignorance, misinformation and fear," Garrison told Yahoo! Canada News.

"Unfortunately, that's what we have come to expect from Mr. Anders.  And I guess it's time for his weekly apology," he said.

"What's most offensive about his petition is that he equates transgendered people with sex offenders and pedophiles.  It has nothing to do with it. It's about guaranteeing equal rights for transgendered people."

The NDP MP does have some support in Conservative circles. Garrison notes that 15 Conservative MPs voted in favour while 9 abstained last June, to help get the Bill to committee stage.

He expects the Bill to be passed sometime in December.