Red Deer’s transgender population hopes passage of a House of Commons bill to protect transgender and transsexual Canadians from discrimination means reinstating funding for transgender surgery in Alberta isn’t too far behind.
On Wednesday, Bill C-389 narrowly passed final reading to amend the Canadian Human Rights Act and Criminal Code to prohibit discrimination on the basis of gender identity and expression.
Dana Moran, a spokesperson for Central Alberta Transgender Support Group, said the bill’s success is “a great Valentine’s Day gift for us.”
“Hopefully this is front-page across the country. This is a really major step forward for thousands of individuals in Canada,” said Moran, who had surgery to become a woman.
In 2009, Alberta stopped funding sex-change surgery, which can cost $50,000 for the more complex female-to-male operation, as a way of reducing health-care expenses.
Moran has argued in the past that suicide and attempts are far too common for people who feel trapped in the wrong body.
She said access to sex-change surgery funding is not only important for people with gender identity disorder, but their families and friends as well.
“It’s as hard on them as it is for people with the disorder.”
She said attitudes are slowly changing. More media attention on the issue, usually concerning celebrities, has opened some people’s eyes.
“With people like Chaz Bono (child of Sonny and Cher Bono) being public about her reassignment, it has helped a lot.”
Bill C-389, an NDP private member’s bill, still has to pass through the Senate. It’s expected to face opposition in the Conservative-dominated Senate.
Red Deer MP Earl Dreeshen voted against C-389. The vote passed with 143 in favour and 135 opposed.
Dreeshen said the bill was not well written and transgender and transsexual Canadians already have protection under the Human Rights Act.
Moran is happy the bill has made it as far as it has and is crossing her fingers that the bill becomes law before the federal government calls an election.
All private members bills die on the order papers if Parliament is dissolved.
More information on Central Alberta Transgender Support Group is available by calling 403-342-5760.