Forced to Lie by Legislation

Trans people are often seen as liars and tricksters. An example of this would be the idea that comes up every time a bill (C-389, C-279) proposes to recognize gender identity and gender expression as a recognized group under Canada’s Criminal Code, thereby protecting transsexual, transgender and gender-variant people a little better from hate crimes.

Conservative MP Rob Anders’s petition against the bill states, “[It] is the duty of the House of Commons to protect and safeguard our children from any exposure and harm that will come from giving a man access to women’s public washroom facilities.”

Do politicians really think that a man will dress up as a woman to gain access to women’s bathrooms and assault someone? Think about that. If a man wants to assault someone, is he really going to go through the trouble of dressing up? Is he going to let a door stop him? No. He will push past the door.

Transsexual, transgender and gender-variant people walk into bathrooms for certain reasons: to go pee, to fix their hair, to clean a stain off their shirt. Transgender advocate, Jan Buterman, told the CBC, “The suggestion that this is somehow some […] conspiracy of trans people to sneak into bathrooms deliberately to harm people—it’s ludicrous.”

There are only two instances that jump to mind when all trans people lie:

First –when they are forced to interact with others as their gender assigned at birth.
Every time I cross the border, I show my passport. It has my birth name and gender assigned at birth on it (F). Unfortunately, while my birth name is my legal name, it is not my true name. I have not had problems with border guards (knock on wood). My mom is usually the one driving so when the guard looks at my freshly-shaved face, I wave from the passenger seat and don’t speak. We pass through without harassment. My deepened voice would confuse the border guard and then I would have to engage an impromptu Trans 101 to explain my appearance.

Second –when trans* people need to look and act heteronormatively, that is to be perceived as straight, in order to get access to hormones and trans-specific psychiatric services. I met a psychiatrist once who expected me to be assertive and macho. I was having trouble communicating to my parents that I needed them to call me by my name. Upon learning that I was a person with activist inclinations, the psychiatrist told me, “write your own manifesto!” He wanted me to move out of my house and potentially cut off my parents. I was thankful that I wasn’t wearing my pink shirt or lavender nail polish at the time (I think I might have had chipped black).

I left his office, feeling ashamed to be a tender-hearted young man. I was also irked that he was trying to force me to be someone that I am not.

I am a terrible liar. I’ve heard many stories from transsexual folks who lie to their psychiatrist saying, “Oh yes, I’ve always felt this way” or “Yes, I am straight” etc. You tell them what they want to hear to get what you need. Lying does leave a bad taste in the mouth though.

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