HANDS ACROSS THE AISLE

Does Bill C-16 Remove a Woman’s Right to Consent? Paul Dirks Testifies.

Public testimony in support of sex-based rights and against gender identity legislation may be the most effective way to embolden others to speak up. Too many people are silent because they think they’re alone. The Hands Across the Aisle Coalition will be proudly posting public testimony from the courageous people on both sides of the aisle who are raising their voices for women.

Paul Dirks pastors at New West Community Church in BC, Canada. Although a conservative, he is working right across the political spectrum to ensure that women’s spaces stay safe from predators. Paul is the organizer of the WOMAN Means Something campaign. What follows is Paul’s testimony given before the Canadian Senate’s Legal and Constitutional Committee for Bill C-16 on May 10, 2017.

“I consider it a great privilege to speak to you today, Honorable Senators, in opposition to Bill C- 16. I believe the Bill to be well-intentioned and yet it puts women and children at risk of sexual violence and, more importantly, removes a women’s right of consent when it comes to her bodily privacy. Our campaign has done hundreds of hours of research on male violence against women in public spaces. We have logged 255 incidents of the sort that many people say do not exist. These are largely of voyeurism, in spaces like unisex change rooms at pools, gender-neutral bathrooms or, in 29 cases, situations where males have expressed a female gender and perpetrated violence in women’s safe spaces. Let me give you a few examples from Canada

1. Christopher/Jessica Hambrook (2012): assaulted two women in Toronto women’s shelters, in at least one case after three weeks identifying as a woman.

2. Darren Cottrelle (2013): dressed as a woman and committed voyeurism in a woman’s washroom at Dufferin Mall in Toronto.

3. Xingchen Liu (2015): dressed as a woman and committed video voyeurism in a woman’s change room at Leduc Recreation Centre in Edmonton.

Also in 2015, the University of Toronto faced a debacle when they were forced to reverse their decision to make many of their washrooms gender-neutral when at least two women were victims of voyeurism while they were showering.

We recently did a geographical analysis of these incidents. We compared the level of incidents per population in those regions which had gender -inclusive legislation with those that did not. Regions with gender legislation were 1.8x as likely to have these violent incidents against women than those without. All five of the regions with the highest incident rate per population were those with gender legislation, with Ontario being the second highest, and Alberta fifth. The best data we have available demonstrates that gender-inclusive legislation is associated with increased harm to women.

Target stores make for an interesting case study which corroborates this finding of increased harm. It is well known that in April 2016 Target publicized it’s gender-inclusive policy. In the 13 months since, Target has experienced 8 incidents of sexual violence against women in the change rooms and washrooms of their stores. This was more than all other years combined.

One of the most notable of these incidents occurred in July 2016 in Idaho. Shauna Smith, a transwoman, videotaped an eighteen-year old woman changing. At Smith’s sentencing the Judge, stated, “I, perhaps along with others, thought that Target has now adopted a questionable policy (and wondered) is someone going to come in and victimize someone because of that…You took advantage of that and victimized this young lady.”

But not only do women have the right to be protected in their safe spaces, they have a right of consent concerning their bodily privacy in places like change rooms.

Stanley v RCMP, 1987. “We cannot conceive of a more basic subject of privacy than the naked body. The desire to shield one’s unclothed figure from view of strangers, and particularly strangers of the opposite sex, is impelled by elementary self- respect and personal dignity.”

Stopps v Just Ladies Fitness, 2006. “Privacy interests are not determined by the lowest common denominator of modesty that society considers appropriate. What is determinative is whether a reasonable person would find that person’s claimed privacy interest legitimate and sincere, even though not commonly held.”

Bill C-16 removes women’s right of consent concerning their bodily privacy, and overturns decades of jurisprudence on bodily privacy law. This is likely why a majority of Canadians do not support full choice for trans bathroom access. An Angus-Reid Poll in 2016 found that while 84 percent of Canadians approve of transgender rights generally, only 41% supported full transgender bathroom rights. It is highly likely that support for change room access would be considerably less.

Hon. Senators, we need more protections for women, not less. And above all women must retain the right of consent concerning their bodily privacy.”