Skip to content

EDITORIAL: Debunking hate myths of transphobes

Comments and Views from the Inuvik Drum and Letters to the Editor

Editor’s note: This column contains references to sexual violence that may bring past trauma back into consciousness.

Last week, Inuvik Drum took the stance that non-binary persons are and have always been human beings, and they deserve the same treatment as all other human beings.

This week, I will break down arguments made by trans-haters, demonstrating they are simply the latest crop of bigots whom future generations will look back upon as bad examples.

Let’s start with athletics. One of the arguments used by politicians who use hate to get elected is supposedly that male Olympic athletes who can’t make the cut for Team Canada might “switch teams” and get surgery so they can compete (and in these folks’ imagination, dominate) in female sporting events.

Science says otherwise. A 2022 review of scientific literature done by the Canadian Centre for Ethics in Sport concluded: “There is no firm basis available in evidence to indicate that trans women have a consistent and measurable overall performance benefit after 12 months of testosterone suppression.” A further review in 2023 found that within two years of gender affirming surgery, any benefits from an athlete’s past life have been pretty much lost. Males who become females don’t run any faster than people who are born female, nor do they lift greater weights or outperform in any other manner.

Let’s apply a few seconds of rational analysis to this: You’re an athlete who wants to make Team Canada. Competition is fierce. Do you A) interrupt your training for months with invasive surgery and hormone treatment, subjecting yourself to a lifetime of putting up with transphobes, just so you can compete with people you’ve never competed with before, or B) train harder?

Another factor most trans-haters conveniently ignore is how expensive gender re-assignment surgery is. In reality, to get either your chest or pelvis modified is entering the realm of $30,000 each. If someone’s objective is to cheat their way to the podium, there are far less expensive or permanent ways to do it, either by simply taking testosterone hormones directly and avoiding getting one’s gonads cut off or the more classic use of anabolic steroids. The fact someone can undergo something as intense as gender reassignment surgery and still perform at an Olympic level is something which should be celebrated, not ridiculed.

A second myth is the idea rapists would use gender reassignment surgery to sneak into women’s bathrooms. This is nonsense on many levels, most notably because there really isn’t anything stopping rapists from raping as it is. Of the dozens of sexual assault trials I have covered in my career, I can say I’ve witnessed three convictions in total. Any prosecutor can tell you establishing someone committed rape beyond a shadow of a doubt is extremely difficult, even when the victim does everything correctly. A rapist could walk into a safe space at any time, likely overpower whoever is in there and stand a frighteningly good chance of getting away with it. If your objective is to protect your daughters, you should be pushing for stronger convictions for rapists and better education about sex and consent in school — not harassing non-binary people who may very well already be victims of sexual violence.

This brings me to myth number three, which trans-haters usually bring up when challenged: the idea this whole thing is being forced on kids by the education system. Usually, this is worded in an accusation that young children are being shown “pornography.” For those unaware, showing minors pornographic material is illegal under the criminal code and to date no school board has been charged, in spite of very well funded child protection units in police stations across the nation. What is actually happening is children are being taught human anatomy, which is nothing new. In the 1990 film “Kindergarten Cop,” Arnold Schwarzenegger is informed by a student on his first day of teaching that “boys have a penis, girls have a vagina.”

There is a case to be made for teaching kids about anatomy and consent. In a previous journalism job, I covered a trial where a man told his child his penis was his “tail.” I won’t gross you out with what happened next, other than to say the man is in jail where he belongs. If the child had known the difference ahead of time, they maybe could have been saved a lifetime of mental trauma.

The last pillar of the transphobe manifesto is saying youths shouldn’t be taking puberty blockers or other hormone supplements as prescribed by their doctor, which is simply an anti-abortion stance applied to non-binary people. Government has no place in the doctor’s office — interfering with a medical assessment is both intrusive and downright dangerous. Why conservatives remain obsessed with controlling other people’s bodies is a mystery to me, but no matter how many times Canadians tell them a hard ‘no,’ they keep interpreting that as ‘yes, if we push a little harder…’

It’s unfortunate all this has to be said in 2024. Myths like the ones above are dangerous because they allow people mental shelter to do things they would otherwise consider cruel or callous. By demonstrating that non-binary Canadians have always been here and dismantling the myths used to bully and oppress them, I hope we can turn the page and support each other.