Oger’s practical experience

I’ve been arguing with Morgane Oger for a couple of days.

MO: I consider rejecting a person’s gender identity equivalent to all other forms of supremacist and fundamentalist ideologies.

Mine: Rejecting a “gender identity” that differs from physical sex is neither supremacist nor fundamentalist.

You just like bullying women, that’s all it is.

MO: As long as no action is taken oh, what you think about transgender people is your own business. Employers, service providers, or landlords straying into discrimination on explicitly prohibited grounds makes it public business.

Mine: What kind of daft non sequitur is that? I said VRR are not supremacist or fundamentalist.

MO: Human rights laws are here to address supremacist ideas.

Mine: Back to front. Human rights laws are here to define and protect human rights. “Supremacist ideas” are not the only source of opposition.

MO: Might I suggest you spar on Twitter with somebody who has no practical experience bringing, protecting, and using legislation on the matter?

Mine: Oh I’m aware of your experience, pal – your experience of persecuting Vancouver Rape Relief for being an organization to help women.

That’s where it stands as of now. Naif reminded us in a comment Tuesday that

the VRR’s right to select membership (and employment) on the basis of sex, not gender-feels, has been upheld in court.   When Oger says “VRR choosing to ignore Canada’s civil rights laws”, he is in fact full of shit.

so I decided to refresh my memory on the history of this conflict. Meghan wrote up the city council vote last March.

On Thursday, Vancouver city councilors voted to cut funding to Canada’s longest standing rape crisis centre and transition house. Vancouver Rape Relief and Women’s Shelter (VRRWS) has been receiving funding from the city for more than 10 years, and while VRRWS will receive these funds this year, the decision was made that the grant will not be renewed next year unless the organization’s position to maintain women-only space changes. This particular grant went towards public education and outreach, and was for approximately $30,000.

The efforts to cut these funds were led by local trans activists; notably, BC NDP Vice President, Morgane Oger, who has been the subject of numerous complaints from citizens, on account of accusations of defamation and harassment of feminists online.

At a city council meeting on Wednesday, Hilla Kerner, a member of the VRRWS collective, pointed out that no one informed the organization that this grant would be discussed and potentially discontinued as a result of that discussion, meaning that, had VRRWS not been tipped off privately, they would have had no support at the meeting nor any opportunity to defend themselves. “Nobody bothered to invite us to explain our position, practices, politics, and services,” Kerner said.

It appears Oger intended to stage a coup, organizing trans activists to attend the meeting and speak against VRRWS, in order to ensure a one-sided “debate.” And the city was ready to let this happen, without protest.

During the hearing, Oger (11:46:00) argued that VRRWS should be disqualified from receiving public funds, accusing the organization of “having a history of discrimination against transgender women on the basis of their gender identity or gender expression.” This statement is of course untrue. Rather, VRRWS has a policy of offering services to those born female, and as well won the right to determine their own membership in 2007, meaning that it is within their rights to maintain a women-only policy with regard to collective members and shelter workers.

So I followed that link and read the chronology. Here’s the key bit:

January 18 2002

The BC Human Right Tribunal released its decision that Vancouver Rape Relief acted on good faith and had been respectful in their treatment of Kimberly Nixon. However, the tribunal ruled that Vancouver Rape Relief had not proved that life experience as a girl and woman was a necessary pre-requisite to be a peer counselor to raped and battered women and ordered the payment of $7,500 to Kimberly Nixon for hurt feelings.

August 2003

The BC Supreme Court conducted a judicial review of the BC Human Rights Tribunal decision.

December 19, 2003

The Supreme Court set aside the decision of the Human Rights Tribunal, finding that the Tribunal had made an error: Vancouver Rape Relief had not discriminated against Kimberly Nixon and the group does have the right to freedom of association to organize as women only.

The court further declined to send the matter back to the Tribunal for a rehearing.

April, 2005

Nixon appealed to the B.C. Court of Appeal.

December 7, 2005

The B.C. Court of Appeal held unanimously that Vancouver Rape Relief has the right to prefer to train women who have never been treated as anything but female.

The Chief Justice said: “The respondent Society was entitled to give preference to women who are not post-operative transsexuals, because there is a rational connection between the preference and the respondent’s work or purpose.”

February 1, 2007

The Supreme Court of Canada dismissed Kimberly Nixon’s request to appeal the B.C. Court of Appeals decision. The Supreme Court further awarded Vancouver Rape Relief with “costs”. Which as of June 2009, Kimberly Nixon has not paid back. Read the final decision here.

So, just as Naif said, Oger is lying every time he says VRR is breaking the law, and he says it a lot.

And yes it matters. Growing up as a girl is not the same as growing up as a boy who wishes he were a girl or “feels like” a girl or both. It should be possible to have all kinds of solidarity with males who would rather be female if it weren’t that so many of them express that preference by bullying women.

4 Responses to “Oger’s practical experience”