And another guest post:
On April 6th, an Opinion Editorial I was invited to write for the Georgia Straight’s online edition was published.
I chose as my theme the fact that as a transsexual I have fewer rights than a cisgendered person.
In the article, I mentioned Kimberly Nixon’s encounter with Vancouver Rape Relief (a little background here: and here: ) I spoke of how the Supreme Court of Canada’s decision to uphold Rape Relief’s right to discriminate means that transsexuals de-facto do not have the same rights a cispeople in British Columbia and that any organisation can use the same arguments Rape Relief used to legally discriminate.
Several days later, on Friday April 10th, Daisy Kler speaking for Vancouver Rape Relief posted a comment in response:
Commentary “Jessica Cooper: As a transsexual person, I have no rights”
I would like to correct the inaccurate account and portrayal of Vancouver Rape Relief and Women’s Shelter. First Vancouver Rape Relief and Women’s Shelter was one of the first equality seeking groups that argued to the BC government that transsexuals be included in the human rights code.
Second, Ms Cooper’s assertion that because of the decision made by the Canadian courts in favor of Vancouver Rape Relief and Women’s Shelter that “, my brothers, sisters and I can be kicked out of any public space, we can be fired simply for the crime of being ourselves, we can be evicted without recourse and we can be reviled, harassed and physically attacked merely for daring to use a public washroom” is untrue and inaccurate in terms of existing human rights law. While I can empathize with her frustration about society’s prejudices they are not the result of the case brought against us or our actions. The decision that came down meant that women’s groups such as Vancouver Rape Relief and indeed groups of transsexual and transgendered persons have the legal right to determine their own membership. In addition we believe it is important for raped and battered women to have the choice of a women-only peer group for support. Here is a more accurate description of the decision made in this case:
“The Human Rights Tribunal had previously ruled that Rape Relief’s decision to allow into the training program only women who had been born and raised as girls and women was rationally connected to Rape Relief’s work of counseling women victims of sexual assault and fighting male violence and women’s inequality. The Tribunal also held that that Rape Relief’s decision was made in good faith.”
Summary of Decision: Provided by: Gwendoline Allison, Bull, Housser & Tupper LLP and Professor Christine Boyle, University of British Columbia School of Law.
Both the writer and the Georgia Straight should be more careful in checking the accuracy of comments. This would not be hard to do since we have always been clear and transparent in our case and a timeline of the case, court transcripts and a summary of the decision can all be found on our website
Inaccurate and misleading comments undermine the important work we do.
Vancouver Rape Relief shelters houses over 100 women each year along with 70-80 of the battered women’s children. Each year the 24-hour rape crisis line receives new calls from 1,300-1,400 women dealing with rape, sexual assault, incest, battering and sexual harassment.
Vancouver Rape Relief and Women’s Shelter
In my reply to her, I chided her on her cisprivilege and commented that she had made my point better than I did; here was a ciswoman freely admitting that Rape relief feels entirely justified in discriminating, and even throwing in the “women born women” codewords so beloved of the Radical Feminists.
Fast forward to Friday the 17th and another fail. This time Shiella Ballentyne wrote:
In response to Jessica Cooper’s article: “As a Transsexual I have no rights”
I was very sorry to read of the prejudices and lack of rights Ms. Cooper and all transsexuals must endure. It was a brave and candid article. I greatly appreciate Ms. Cooper sharing her experiences in this way. I am concerned, however, that Vancouver Rape Relief and Women’s Shelter was referred to out of context and I would like to offer readers another point of view.
Vancouver Rape Relief is an all-female space for women who have experienced male violence. This does not mean the organization is anti-men or anti-transsexual, it just fills a need for women seeking relief who feel they would heal best and are most comfortable in a women-only environment. Vancouver Rape Relief works with many other organizations and supports the objectives of shelters and crisis centres that do not have an all-female policy.
I would urge everyone to read up on Ms. Nixon’s case (the Vancouver Rape Relief website is a good start:
) before passing judgment against Vancouver Rape Relief. Equality for everyone, no matter your gender, is in everyone’s best interest. We’re all in this together!
Note that Sheila quotes the very same page Dasiy did, Rape Relief’s slanted page celebrating their victory in Court. Note also the very condescending cisprivileged way she oh-so-graciously is “ very sorry to read of the prejudices and lack of rights” I must endure, then she goes right ahead and heaps on more!
I’m sorry Daisy and Shiela, we’re not in this together. Each of you gleefully rubbed into my face the fact that you do not consider me to be a woman. Each of you used Radical Feminist codewords designed to exclude, other and belittle my existence. Each of you, in attempting to spin Rape Relief as the “good guys” ended up proving my point; cispeople have more rights than transpeople, and that cispeople get to define my gender to suit themselves.
The fail, it burns!