Family Coalition Party of Ontario canvassers have distributed flyers to people in west-end Toronto's Parkdale-High Park riding that many are calling transphobic.
DiNovo was the sponsor of Bill 33
, which added gender identity and gender expression to the Ontario Human Rights Code and was passed by the legislature in June.
The flyers refer to Bill 33 as “The Bathroom Bill” and say that it allows “a man who calls himself transgendered” to use a woman’s public washroom. They also allege that the bill will “threaten the lives of girls and women by putting them at greater risk from male sexual predators.”
The flyer that was distributed in DiNovo's Parkdale-High Park riding.
The flyers don’t refer to the needs or challenges of trans people but present the bill as legislative permission for men to invade women’s washrooms and showers. They include a petition demanding a repeal of the bill.
The Family Coalition Party is a minor Ontario political party focused largely on banning abortion and other Christian religious issues. It received fewer than 10,000 votes in total in the last Ontario general election – less than 0.25 percent of the popular vote.
Susan Gapka, chair of the Trans Lobby Group, says the flyers dehumanize trans people.
“This is another example of why extending human and social rights to trans people is vitally important. This type of attack upon us as a vulnerable population is nothing more than storytelling, myth making and fear mongering,” Gapka said in a press release.
DiNovo says it’s “disturbing” that she’s being attacked for standing up for trans people.
“The transphobic message of the flyer is that trans folk are, in essence, pedophiles,” she says. “The whole structure of their argument is ludicrous unless you understand that basic message: there’s no such thing as a trans person; there’s just male pedophiles dressed as women.”
But a spokesperson for the FCPO says the flyer addresses legitimate concerns about the implementation of Bill 33.
“Our concern is that there are people in the province who are intent on doing harm in the public and use the bill to do harm. We want to make sure that as this bill is implemented that appropriate precautions are taken so public safety is protected,” says Eric Ames, communication director of the FCPO.
“I think the flyers are being misportrayed as saying that the trans community are predators. We’re not saying that at all.
We’re saying that there are predators who would use Bill 33 for harm,” he says. “When it comes to discrimination for any reason, the Family Coalition Party does not support discrimination for anyone, and that includes the trans community.”
But DiNovo doesn’t believe that explanation.
“People who get these understand that message. It’s an effective hate message. Nobody is phoning us and asking about allowing male predators into girls' change rooms,” DiNovo says.
Ames says the party targeted DiNovo’s riding because it wants to get her attention and force her to respond to its concerns in a meeting that also includes members of the trans community.
“If they have already thought out all the implications, then why haven’t they met with us?” he asks.
DiNovo had initially considered filing a human-rights grievance against the FCPO over the flyers but decided against it, citing the cost in time and resources.