Blog dedicated primarily to randomly selected news items; comments reflecting personal perceptions

Friday, March 28, 2014

Gender "Fluidity"

"It's understandable at the individual level, and the individual point of view, but if we want to have good social policies we need to get the information to develop those policies. It's a bit like removing age. Age discrimination is a concern in the workplace in particular, but on the other hand if we don't have information, we can't develop policies to help combat that sort of discrimination."
Demographer David Foot, University of Toronto

"I can say a few things: One, we recognize the issues faced by the trans community and we're sympathetic to the vulnerabilities that that group [has]. We know that there's discrimination against trans-people in Saskatchewan and we're very confident that the human rights code in its current form protects trans-people."
David Arnot, chief commissioner, Saskatchewan Human Rights Commission

"I don't think it's anybody's business what gender you are. I have to show a birth certificate when I register at a school. Why do they need to know her gender? We have to show that even to get a library card."
"When we allowed her to express herself the way she wanted with her clothing, she was a much happier child, not self-destructive."
Fran Forsberg, Saskatchewan mother
Handout   Renn Forsberg's self-destructive behaviour let up when she was allowed to identify as a female.
Ms. Forsberg is the mother of six-year-old Renn who was born with male genitalia but has 'identified' as a female for the past three years. Renn, according to her mother, was behaving self-destructively at age three, banging her head repeatedly against walls. She stopped only when her mother permitted the child to 'identify' as female. The school that Renn attends sees her as male.

Renn's mother is fed up with the discriminatory attitudes her child has faced, and she has lodged a complaint with the Saskatchewan Human Rights Commission over her daughter's birth certificate. The provincial government has refused her demands to change that identifying document from "M" to "F". And it is that document, Renn's birth certificate, that has been the source of too many problems insists her mother.

As far as the provincial government is concerned, gender identification can be changed only when an individual has undergone sex reassignment surgery. Now, Ms. Forsberg wants the provincial government to stop recording gender on documents such a birth certificates altogether. School authorities want Renn to use the boys' washroom, not the girls'. Ms. Forsberg is looking ahead to the future and the problems her child will face each time she is asked to provide identification.

Demographer David Foot pointed out that when distinguishing characters are removed from official documents it is made more difficult for governments to make assessments with respect to statistics; for example, removing race makes it difficult to track whether specific groups are succeeding or failing in relation to the rest of the population and how government policies may be implemented to usefully aid in various categories.

Susan Antosh, CEO of eHealth Saskatchewan, explained the importance medically of swift identification of an individual's gender; women and men may present different symptoms during a heart attack, as an example. Ms. Forsberg, however is fed up; she and her family have fallen under criticism where they have been criticized for the method of their parenting.

Renn's older brother, Tana, like his sister, according to Ms. Forsberg is also "gender fluid." Gender, stated Ms. Forsberg, is much more elusive than most people believe, and some children live along a spectrum. "Tana is not a transgender child, Tana is what we call two-spirited. He's in touch with his male and female side."
"My children don't have an issue. Society has an issue. People need to educate themselves", she insists.
Fran Forsberg (L) looks at photos of her children with Chandra McIvor of Saskatoon's Avenue Community Centre. Forsberg says she had difficulty convincing school officials to let her child use the girl's washroom.
David Stobbe for the National Post    Fran Forsberg (L) looks at photos of her children with Chandra McIvor of Saskatoon's Avenue Community Centre. Forsberg says she had difficulty convincing school officials to let her child use the girl's washroom.

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