Family law reform | The voices we didn’t want to hear

Bill 2 (PL2)’s detailed study on family law reform has just begun and Secretary of State Simon Jolin-Barrette has already indicated that the concepts of gender and genre identity will be grouped “under the same hat”.1 in the Civil Code.

Posted at 12 noon

Marie Claude Girard

Marie Claude Girard
Retired from the Canadian Human Rights Commission and over 50 other signatories*

However, they are not included in the Canadian and Quebec Charters of Human Rights, which correctly recognize gender identity or expression as a prohibited ground of discrimination different from that of sex. “Gender” (social construction) and “sex” (related to biology) are indeed two different concepts recognized by our Charters. Why should it be different in the Civil Code?

Despite the many fears expressed in the briefing submitted to the Parliamentary Committee for PL2, the Quebec government chose to combine the two concepts.

In doing so, he reduces an immutable biological characteristic to a sociological and behavioral concept that evolves over time. This disregard of the scientific meaning of ‘sex’ has concrete consequences for the entire population, but especially for women who feel disembodied in a vocabulary that strips the word ‘woman’ of its meaning. So it will be a matter of talking about “pregnant, breastfeeding or menstruating people”. In addition to the deep disdain expressed in this vocabulary, refusing to recognize the specific circumstances of women is tantamount to jeopardizing the measures taken to ensure their rights to equality and dignity on the basis of gender.

Moreover, the statistical data that makes it possible to recognize the reality of women, by merging the concepts of sex and gender, disappear. However, the lack of reliable biological data on sex jeopardizes women’s sport, the advancements necessary for women’s health and safety.

women sports

The mixing up of sex and gender will have a major impact on women’s sports teams, created for greater equality, in recognition of the physical differences that set them apart from men. For example, the “gender” identifier helps to ensure the sustainability of women’s sports competitions, developed because society recognizes that there are significant genetic, anatomical and physiological differences between women and men that put women at a disadvantage in a significant sports competition. The American experience shows that more and more teenage girls are losing competitions and associated college scholarships to transgender, biologically male, who are faster and stronger than them.

in health

Gender-specific data is essential for the health system to provide a quality service, as well as in clinical and biomedical research, to ensure that each person’s biological reality is taken into account. It is this kind of data that has saved lives, for example by concluding that the symptoms of a heart attack differ greatly between women and men.

The confusion of gender and gender also jeopardizes the effective treatment of hospitalized emergency patients who cannot speak. Emergency physicians need to be able to act quickly, without having to undress the patient, to find out whether to examine the side of the prostate or a possible ectopic pregnancy in the event of a crisis.

public safety

It should be remembered that it is mainly gender-specific data that first responders use to identify victims of traffic accidents and crimes, to facilitate the search for criminals or to issue AMBER warnings.

Gender integrity is also essential to meet international standards, such as the United Nations Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners, which state that “different categories of prisoners should be placed in institutions or parts of separate institutions on the basis of their gender.” […] †2

Confusing “sex” and “gender” also poses significant safety risks for women. In Canada, for example, Madilyn Harks, formerly Matthew Harks, a serial child molester suspected of more than 60 victims and about 200 crimes, sexually assaulted two female inmates who “looked like children”3† In Toronto, at a shelter and relief center for women who have been victims of sexual and spousal violence, women who do not feel comfortable sharing a room with ‘trans women’ with penises are sent back to the streets and end up in a situation of homelessness. Their security needs are not taken into account4

It is certainly not by rejecting scientific concepts, by creating new forms of discrimination against women, or by hastily proposing to assimilate gender and sex, without the opportunity to discuss them sufficiently, that the Quebec government is anticipating the advent of a society will promote which we hope is truly inclusive.

I look forward to a real civic debate to find a respectful passage for all!

1. Reform of family law, Jolin-Barette supports the distinction between sex and gender; The duty† 1er May 2022

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