Radical Feminists Unite is a Toronto-based organization of diverse women who work toward the preservation and advancement of the rights of women and girls. We have organized a lecture at a Toronto Public Library branch by Canadian feminist journalist Meghan Murphy, taking place on October 29th. We are not a hate group, and we do not espouse hate speech, or advocate for the removal of rights from any marginalized group.
We have invited Meghan Murphy to speak because she is respected as an important feminist voice, not only in Canada, but around the world. She has built one of the largest and most read feminist websites in the English speaking world, and has exemplified bravery and steadfastness in her refusal to back down on behalf of women.
Neither we, nor Meghan, are looking to remove anyone’s right to safety, dignity, and freedom from discrimination. We believe that these are fundamental rights that should be guaranteed to all human beings. With regard to trans people, and specifically trans women, we believe that specialized services such as rape shelters, prison accommodations, gender neutral washrooms, and other social programs should be available to meet their specific needs as a marginalized community. To state that we are looking to take away these rights, and that we even question the existence and humanity of trans people, is an outright falsehood.
In 2017 Meghan Murphy testified before the senate regarding the impact bill C-16 would have on women and girls. She focused on how we define men and women, what it means to be male or female, and how masculinity and femininity have been the tools of our oppression. She talked about the dangers of enshrining something as ill-defined as gender identity in Canadian law. Meghan pointed out that the ability for males to be accepted as women on the basis of their internal sense of gender identity, rather than being classified according to sex, has widespread consequences for women. We believe these consequences cannot be ignored and should be discussed.
Bill C-16 added Gender Identity and Gender Expression to the Canadian Human Rights Act. On the surface, this appears to be an important and progressive step for the rights of trans people. But this amendment actually comes into conflict with other protected characteristics also named in the Canadian Human Rights Act, such as the right to single sex spaces and provisions, and freedom of religion (for women who, due to their religion, are prohibited from sharing intimate spaces or coming into physical contact with males); as well as complicating rights guaranteed under the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, such as freedom of association, and freedom of thought, belief, opinion, and expression. A good example of how these rights compete with each other can be found in the case of JY vs Various Waxing Salons, which was heard before the BC Human Rights Tribunal in July, and is currently pending a decision.
Practically, we believe there is an important difference between males and females, and that being able to distinguish between the two in law is essential to the maintenance of women’s rights. This does not mean we deny the existence of trans people, who may experience gender and/or sex dysphoria and come to identify more closely with the gender roles associated with the opposite sex. We do believe, though, that a discussion needs to be had about how this affects women’s existing, hard won rights- specifically the right to single sex spaces such as prisons, changing rooms, rape shelters, and women’s sports. We also believe that the choice of Statistics Canada to record statistics by self-identified gender, rather than biological sex, will have a negative impact on the ability of advocates to track violence against women and trans people, as well as to know who commits particular crimes, and who the victims of those crimes are. As these stats are used by policy makers and private researchers, it is our contention that the accurate representation of sex in these stats is vital to the well-being of women and trans people.
This event, while now sold out, was open to the public, and will have a question period following Meghan Murphy’s presentation. We consciously priced the tickets at $5 each, so that the event would be as accessible as possible to all. It is our hope that this event will open a desperately needed dialogue among people who hold many different thoughts, opinions, and beliefs.
We are honoured to host Meghan Murphy here in Toronto. An understanding of biological sex is not hateful, and meeting to listen and discuss the impact of the collision of sex and gender in Canadian legislation does not amount to the promotion of discrimination, contempt, or hatred. We would like to see all marginalized people provided for, and think there are solutions to these issues of competing rights, but finding and creating those solutions requires an open and honest discussion of sex, gender, and the law.