Why is the NBD Campaign necessary?
Since the fall of 2016, Canadian public life has been the site of an inflated controversy about gender-neutral pronouns. This controversy was sparked by opposition to federal Bill C-16 which passed and added gender expression and gender identity as prohibited grounds for discrimination in the Canadian Human Rights Act. Bill C-16 also added these terms to the hate crimes provisions of the Criminal Code. Gender expression is provisionally defined by the Ontario Human Rights Commission as “how a person publicly presents their gender,” whereas gender identity is provisionally defined as “each person’s internal and individual experience of gender.” In all aspects of public life, all Canadians now have protection from discrimination on the grounds of our gender identities and how we express them.
The opposition to Bill C-16 suggested that its gender expression protections (which are often interpreted to include gender pronouns) pose a threat to ‘free speech’ because refusing to say a gender pronoun that does not match one’s own interpretation of someone’s gender expression would become ‘hate speech.’ This is inaccurate, but has become a popular reason to disrespect some
transgender peoples’ pronouns.
During and since the Bill C-16 debates, prominent Canadian journalists and some academics have continued to set an alarmist and divisive tone for the pronoun conversation. But the reality is that people who use gender-neutral pronouns have our needs met every day by other people. It can take some practice and getting used to, but it’s really NO BIG DEAL.
The purpose of the NBD Campaign is to help people show their support for transgender people, because asking for and using someone’s pronoun are just like other ways in which we make a little extra effort for people in our lives who are different from us. You can get involved, quite simply, by sharing, posting or printing our badge.