Where has the wisdom gone in the gender identity committee?

The uncomfortable waltz between the Legault government and trans and non-binary people continues. Radio-Canada reported this week that the Société de l’assurance automobile du Québec (SAAQ) would now be able to issue driving licenses that bear the “X” sex marker (for trans and non-binary people). She refrains from doing so due to pressure from the government.

Quebec wants to show wisdom and wait for the publication of the report of the committee of wise men on gender identity before deciding on the issue. By email, the office of the Minister of Transport and Sustainable Mobility, Geneviève Guilbault, indicated that these were “sensitive” issues deserving “considered decisions”.

The government’s prudence and wisdom would be reassuring if it were not for the composition of the committee. No one doubts the probity of the “wise men”: the former president of the Council on the Status of Women Diane Lavallée, the constitutionalist Patrick Taillon and the family doctor Jean-Bernard Trudeau. Except that the list of wise people is short for a Quebec which has so much wealth in intellectual reflection. The absence of a trans or non-binary representative constitutes an abysmal void which undermines the credibility of the work before it has even begun. Moreover, many rights defense organizations, including the LGBT Council, with 70 member organizations, immediately rejected the creation and composition of the committee. This denial of representation, which the government attributes to a desire for “neutrality”, is not happening. Would we accept the creation of a committee of wise men on domestic violence without the participation of women?

We reiterate the discomfort that the attitude of the Legault government inspires in us regarding gender identity. Whether through populism, ideological blindness or electoralism, it opens the door to a step backwards in the protection and inclusion of sexual minorities among the most abused and fragile.

Let us hope that the committee of wise men, of questionable usefulness, will show discernment. Many governments reduce the rights of trans and non-binary people to a danger for Western civilization, or even to a threat to social cohesion and feminism. These fears appeal to part of the electorate in Quebec as well as within even less inspiring democratic regimes, such as the Republican states in the United States, or even Italy, which has fallen into the vicious rhetoric of the far right.

Of all the concerns, that concerning gender equality remains the most acute, not without reason. Many feminists rightly fear the erasure of the concept of biological woman in trans and non-binary discourse. Intersectionality has not brought unity, far from it. The emerging rights of trans and non-binary people cannot be asserted to the detriment of the progress of feminism.

It is important to distinguish between individual rights and activism when analyzing these issues. It is not because a vocal minority maintains provocative and disturbing discourse on gender identity that the fundamental rights of trans and non-binary people must remain on the sidelines.

The spokesperson for the Liberal Party of Quebec for the LGBTQ+ community, Jennifer Maccarone, used a formula that strikes the imagination regarding the hesitations of the SAAQ. “The government is not above the law, nor is the committee of wise men. » Manon Massé, also a spokesperson for LGBTQ+ people, but at Québec solidaire, also has no enthusiasm for these forms of discrimination, which are reminiscent of those experienced in the past by gays and lesbians who aspired to to equal treatment.

Since 2022, in Quebec, people who identify as neither masculine nor feminine can legally obtain an “X” sex marker from the Director of Civil Status. Government departments and agencies are slow to adapt to this new reality. And yet, we can no longer count the action plans, policies, national tables, prevention campaigns and statements of principle aimed at combating homophobia and transphobia. The Legault government is supporting inertia by pushing back the deadline for compliance with the new reality until 2025 at the earliest. The committee of wise men must make its recommendations, you see. We are beginning to understand the usefulness of this committee. It allows the CAQ members to push forward a public policy issue that makes them uncomfortable.

Identitarian conservatives and the right wish to revive the debate on gender identity on insidious grounds, by assimilating the quest for equality of trans and non-binary people to an attack by the radical left. By leaving the door ajar, the Legault government is giving oxygen to this movement… On the back of a minority representing 0.52% of the population aged 15 to 34. This is a rather questionable choice of priorities.

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