Monday, April 20, 2009

Systemic Discrimination - A Textbook Example

One of my sore points about delisting GRS in Alberta is that it further exposes transsexuals to all kinds of systemic discrimination - whether that is additional scrutiny at a traffic stop because the gender marker on the license doesn't match the appearance, or passing through customs when travelling doesn't matter. This is a source of additional stress in a form that only compounds the stresses (internal and external) that a transsexual experiences during transition.

Well, it seems that even though Alberta has been forced to recognize same sex marriages, within the government there is still considerable denial.

Scott Mair, who used to work for Children's Services, says that according to a booklet he received in May 2008, Mair's husband is not his spouse, he is his "benefit partner."

"This is what our government has put out for its own employees," Mair said. "Clearly discriminatory. Absolutely disgusting, and they're telling me that my marriage doesn't mean anything.

"To me it was systematic bullying and hatred that we've seen consistently through the Alberta government."


It may seem at first that I am conflating two unrealted issues. However, I am not doing so. Systemic discrimination is often subtle, delivered in terms of words and subtext messages. The fact that the Alberta Government is still using different language when it talks about same-sex spouses in communicating with its employees is neither surprising, nor is it acceptable. It sends a message that a same-sex spouse is "different" than an opposite sex spouse, yet in law (which is what matters here), there is no difference in Canada. This duality of language is unnecessary.

Again, as with delisting GRS recently, this sends a message to those it is aimed at - "The government doesn't value you, go live elsewhere".

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