Transgender rules concern

Re. Nudity not ‘unlawful’ (Castanet, Feb. 2)

Castanet recently had an article about two teenage girls being exposed to male nudity in the women's change room at the Vernon Aquatic Centre.

A 50-year-old man came into the change room, stripped naked in front of two 14-year-old girls, put on a woman’s bathing suit and went out. The uncle of one of the girls called the pool's manager. The uncle (says he) was told that the kids have no rights and that the transgender person’s rights take precedence. The reason that men are allowed in women’s spaces is due to Bill C-16.

Bill C-16 received Royal Assent on June 19, 2017 and amended the Canadian Human Rights Act to add gender identity and gender expression to the list of prohibited grounds of discrimination.

Transgender and diverse people are valuable members of our society and deserve the same kindness and respect as anyone else. The bill was put in place to protect transgender people, as there is a higher assault rate for transgender people and they often don’t feel safe. No one deserves to be bullied or harassed.

However, Bill C-16 has created issues. Politicians were warned about those issues, but still passed it.

• Bill C-16 has made it legal for men to change openly in front of females in recreation centre and gymnasium change rooms. Staff have legal obligations to allow patrons to use the change rooms and washrooms of the gender with which they identify. That means women may be exposed to male nudity and exposure, even though they don’t want to be. Apparently “unsafe” behaviors are investigated, but exposure does not count as “unsafe.” A quick Internet search will give you many examples of a man exposing himself in a woman’s change room and the man is protected under Canadian law.

• Bill C-16 has given access for predators to enter zones that were previously safe for women. In Nanaimo in 2023, a male wearing a mask and a wig was loitering in a recreation centre change room, then tried to peep at a female child from an adjacent change stall. When questioned, they said it was within their human rights to be there. Years ago, incidents like that would have been viewed unequivocally as a crime. Someone would have called the police, and the male would have been labelled a sexual predator.

Why are the feelings of someone who identifies as another gender more important than the emotional and physical safety of women? Why do transgender rights take precedence?

My heart goes out to women who have a past of sexual abuse and sharing a change room with a male causes emotional harm. Why are the feelings of someone who identifies as another gender more important than a child’s safety? That is not equality. Women have fought long and hard for equality, and allowing biological men into our safe spaces is a step backwards for women’s rights.

The reason our society is silent and allows this is because today’s political climate demands men be welcomed with open and loving arms into female-only spaces. Anyone who says different is labelled as not only insensitive, but hateful. That is not an issue of transphobia. It is about keeping safe spaces for women only. It is about protecting women who feel vulnerable and uncomfortable emotionally. Equal rights do not mean one community is more protected than another.

This week a man has started changing in the female change room at my local gym. The women in the change room felt vulnerable and emotionally and physically unsafe. It was a horrible experience.

The person says she is female, but she is not. When a complaint was made to the front desk, we were told that she is a woman. His rights are protected, but not ours.

Safe spaces are important for women. Speak out and fight for the rights of safe spaces for women in places like prisons, change rooms, and bathrooms.

Anne Gunion

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