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June 3, 2016

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Inside Out programmer Nik Redman on Canada’s newly proposed transgender rights bill

On May 17, the International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia, Prime Minister Trudeau introduced Bill C-16, federal legislation that would guarantee legal and human rights protection to transgender people across Canada. If passed, this bill would update the Canadian Human Rights Act and the Criminal Code to include the terms ‘gender identity’ and ‘gender expression,’ update hate speech laws to include these terms and make it illegal to discriminate on the basis of gender identity or expression.

With the Inside Out Toronto LGBT Film Festival currently taking place, we asked Nik Redman, festival programmer and member of the transgender community, to share his thoughts on the bill, the discrimination against transgender people, and why it’s important to see LGBT characters on the big screen.

1. Can you tell us a little bit about what the Canadian government putting forward this bill means to you personally, and for the Canadian transgender community?

To me personally, I am waiting to see if the bill passes through the House of Commons and then the Senate and then I will do a big happy dance.  It is significant that it was the Prime Minister and the government in power that introduced the bill. For the trans community, there is hope at the end of a tunnel.  Members of our community have been refused work, disadvantaged in the workplace and denied access to services. This bill will offer protection against such discrimination.  It also affects the Criminal Code so that community members who are targeted because of their gender identity or gender expression are protected against hate propaganda and hate crimes. The government is proposing these changes because the law must be clear and explicit. Transgender and other trans diverse persons have the right to live free from discrimination, hate propaganda and hate crime.

2. With states like North Carolina and Texas in the U.S. making headlines for enacting legislation that discriminates against and threatens the safety of transgender people, are you proud of what the Canadian government is doing? Does Canada still have a long way to go?

Yes, I am proud that we have this introduced in the House of  Commons but we need to see change on the ground level in people’s everyday interactions.   There are still hate crimes against trans people being committed in Canada and it remains to be seen if we will see changes in charges being filed under the Criminal Code.

3. According to GLAAD’s 2016 Studio Responsibility Index, of the 126 releases counted from the major studios in 2015, only 17.5% of films contained LGBT characters. Of these films, GLAAD only counted one trans-inclusive film. Why is it so important to see more LGBT and transgender representation in film?

Seeing LGBT lives and trans characters gives members of our community affirmation and sustenance.

4. Which films with transgender characters do you recommend we check out at Inside Out this year?

The Transplanetarium shorts and the documentary Major! are some of the highlights. There is also Real Boy, Uncle Gloria: One Helluva Ride, Girls Lost, and the closing night film Kiki!

Inside Out runs until June 5, 2016. You can see the schedule of films here.

Inside Out Toronto LGBT Film Festival, Uncategorised