Detailed Analysis of C-16 and recent events in Canada
You have not shown that it does not. You do focus on the language of the bill and take into account several legal experts but also neglect ways in which the law is likely to play out (such as considering how it might be abused), cases of misinterpretation, the role of bureaucracy in enforcing such legislation, and the interplay between this legislation and individualism. I also come away from your comments with a lack of clarity regarding your position on pronouns. You cite Peterson’s refusal to use non-standard pronouns several times as an example of Peterson abusing his students. You offer no proof, only theoretical interpretation. Most transgender individuals prefer using the opposite pronoun (or, in rare cases, ‘they’).
Bill C-16 and Surrounding Legislation
Legislative Summary: “The bill is intended to protect individuals from discrimination within the sphere of federal jurisdiction and from being the targets of hate propaganda, as a consequence of their gender identity or their gender expression. The bill adds “gender identity or expression” to the list of prohibited grounds of discrimination in the Canadian Human Rights Act and the list of characteristics of identifiable groups protected from hate propaganda in the Criminal Code. It also adds that evidence that an offence was motivated by bias, prejudice or hate based on a person’s gender identity or expression constitutes an aggravating circumstance for a court to consider when imposing a criminal sentence”
I will begin this detailed analysis of Canadian policy and its implementation with a brief look at this legislative summary. The wording is fairly straight forward in terms of expressing the intentions of the legislation. The terms ‘gender identity or expression’ are contentious terms. They are not universally supported by specialists in relevant fields, nor are the contours of such terminology widely understood. The relation between sex and gender (or biology and psychology) is not stated. When Peterson was told by a senator (during a hearing) that many specialists and organizations supported the legislation, specifics as to what they actually supported were left out.
I have my own opposition to group-based political protections as I favor legislation for individuals (including letting judges punish crimes motivated by prejudice in specific cases, rather than having standard hate crime legislation). With that being said, I will not touch on that point again and will focus more on problems with the legislation aside from that. I make brief mention of my view on the situation because I have my biases and I stand at the crossroads of classical liberalism (and its emphasis on individual civil liberties) and conservatarian pragmatism (with its emphasis on evolutionary changes in society and in opposition to radical ideologies as well as top-down government).
Gender identity and gender expression “refer to a person’s understanding of what their gender is and how they choose to express it.” Why is this in law? I understand and support a much more tolerant society where people are free to live however they wish as long as they cause no harm to others. Supporting the previous statement is not the same thing as supporting political action to bring about that goal. I would argue that the political action often develops its own way irrespective of the original intentions of those who craft the legislation (see: every Communist country in history). I would argue that the attempts to silence Peterson and the Shepherd Case represent serious cracks in the progress narrative. I would go further and argue that the progress narrative represents a naïve and well-intentioned façade covering the growth of an illiberal power structure. By the way, what are the contours of ‘gender identity and expression’? I know what is stated on several of the Canadian government websites, but how does this play out when it comes to the political realm. I would, again, direct you to a public choice critique of government from Learn Liberty on this point: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xxmXeLEcs9s . In this video, Professor Anthony Davies argues why political systems in democratic countries often fail to deliver on the ideas to which they claim to subscribe. A politician’s ultimate goal is to get elected. To do this, he has to appeal to just over 50% of the voters (assuming a two-way race). To get elected, he must appeal to segments of the population most likely to vote and claim to represent their positions on core issues. In short, the issues the politician claims to care about are often (but admittedly not always) second to the ultimate goal of winning votes and getting or maintaining office.
The use of such terms as ‘gender identity and expression’ are common in gender studies and are often used in the context of social constructivism. Radical social constructivists actively undermine the biological basis for both sex and gender (as well as the links between the two). Yes, gender is in part a social construct but it is also based in biology. Most men identify as male, use male pronouns, and present themselves as male. This is not to say that there are not gender nonconformists, but these gender nonconformists are a very small minority of the whole picture. The legislation does not make clear that biological and psychological research strongly support the view that gender is a bimodal distribution with a small number of exceptions. Politicians, under the guise of compassion, are using terms they know little about to push for this legislation.
The Canadian Human Rights Commission notes “Transgender and gender-diverse individuals across Canada face discrimination, exclusion, and hostility in their daily lives — often impacting their access to everyday services that many Canadians take for granted when they, for example, want to see a family physician, travel, or use a public washroom.” We can agree that discrimination on the basis of gender nonconformity is wrong and should be opposed. However, one of the things which drove me from the (libertarian) left is the tendency of people left-of-center to conflate moral and political issues and (ultimately) argue for greater state intervention. Jordan Peterson’s opposition to C-16 has nothing to do with transgender people. Rather he voiced concerns about the legislation because of how it could impact free discourse in an English Common Law system as well as give legal backing to concocted pronouns. He also mentioned that the legislation is hurting the transgender community more than helping because it accentuates these bizarre non-standard pronouns (which hardly anyone uses) while also conflating that with the desire of transgender individuals to live their lives as they see fit. In short, the movement for supporting transgender rights was associated with concocted pronouns.
The Ontario Human Rights Commission Website has this to say about pronouns: “Sex is the anatomical classification of people as male, female or intersex, usually assigned at birth.
Gender identity is each person’s internal and individual experience of gender. It is a person’s sense of being a woman, a man, both, neither, or anywhere along the gender spectrum. A person’s gender identity may be the same as or different from their birth-assigned sex.
Gender expression is how a person publicly expresses or presents their gender. This can include behaviour and outward appearance such as dress, hair, make-up, body language and voice. A person’s chosen name and pronoun are also common ways of expressing gender. Others perceive a person’s gender through these attributes.
A person’s gender identity is fundamentally different from and not related to their sexual orientation.
Trans or transgender is an umbrella term referring to people with diverse gender identities and expressions that differ from stereotypical gender norms. It includes but is not limited to people who identify as transgender, trans woman (male-to-female MTF), trans man (female-to-male FTM), transsexual, cross-dressers, or gender non-conforming, gender variant or gender queer.
Gender non-conforming individuals do not follow gender stereotypes based on the sex they were assigned at birth and may or may not identify as trans.
“Lived” gender identity is the gender a person feels internally (“gender identity” along the gender spectrum) and expresses publicly (“gender expression”) in their daily life including at work, while shopping or accessing other services, in their housing environment or in the broader community. See section 13.3.3 of this policy: Recognizing lived gender identity.” Many potential problems arise when trying to legally define increasingly small groups of people. I would almost liken this to the inanity of politicians at the Versailles Negotiations in 1919 trying to redraw Europe’s boundaries around ethnic lines. Groups also tend to fractionate. This can easily be seen with LGBT, which is now LGBT+ (LGBTTQQIAAP).
I think we will have to agree to disagree on this issue. Our positions seem to be based on the following fundamental disagreements:
-conflating moral and political goals
-top-down vs. bottom-up approach
-the importance of non-standard pronouns (from ‘zhe’ to ‘wormself’)
-political idealism vs. political realism
In opposing Peterson and defending the law you have not offered much in the way of justification for the law, though admittedly you offer some justification for the law given similar legislation in the past. As far as pronouns go, I am still eager to get a detailed explanation of your perspective. You have argued against Peterson’s relevant positions but have only a limited and theoretical case. You seem to link pronoun usage, including those non-standard pronouns, with the advancement of civil rights. While you stated several times that the legislation does not have criminal consequences for misgendering someone, you do not refute Peterson’s concern regarding fines and potential jail time for not paying the fines. Moreover, you’ve written off the university letters to Peterson and marginalized the Wilfrid Laurier case in support of this legislation. You also seem to extend notions of discrimination to cover not using non-standard pronouns such as ‘zher.’ In short, you argue against the possibility that this legislation could ultimately land someone in jail (a point, I belief, that Schiff does not even make in his article) and yet seem to support the notion that to avoid usage of a concocted pronoun constitutes discrimination. You are, of course, free to hold whatever opinions you wish about the legislation, but I find too many questionable aspects of this legislation, the political perspectives on sex and gender, power relations, human nature, and rapid introduction of (and political backing for) new and unusual pronouns. We do not have to continue this discussion if you do not wish. I do not think it will, in the foreseeable future at least, yield any more useful information for either of us.
The above is a response to your post from yesterday as I did not have sufficient time to respond before work. I will offer only a short response to your post from this morning. This is in response to your statement on civil rights. I only seek to clarify my position. I am in support of legislation based on classical liberal principles. That is, I support legislation aimed at promoting individual civil liberties and equality of opportunity. I oppose legislation based in notions of group rights. Individuals have rights, groups are collections of individuals and granting them special ‘rights’ is, in my opinion, granting them privileges. Marriage equality, for example, was the extension of a traditional civil institution to accommodate for a greater number of individuals as marriage is a robust foundation for healthy relationships and families. The group identity faction (LGBT+ identities) is splintering into smaller and smaller groups. Eventually, they will reach the level of the individual. I would just rather skip the ‘ride’ and just get to the damned destination!