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Pierre Poilievre’s comments about trans women ‘a dangerous distraction,’ Amnesty International Canada says

In response to federal Opposition leader Pierre Poilievre’s recent comments stating trans women have no space in women’s bathrooms, changing rooms, shelters, sporting competitions and other services, Elishma Khokhar, Gender Rights campaigner with Amnesty International Canada’s English-speaking section, said:

“Not only does this shameful rhetoric put trans and gender-diverse people at further risk; it obscures the realities of gender-based violence in Canada.

“Amnesty International Canada wholeheartedly condemns any attempt to scapegoat members of the 2SLGBTQQIA+ community to score political points. We call on all political leaders to end the spread of harmful disinformation.”

Poilievre made the anti-trans comments in response to a reporter’s question at a public event this week in Kitchener, Ont.

Trans people often the targets of gender-based violence

According to statistics reported by the Canadian government, transgender and gender-diverse people are much more likely than their cisgender peers to be subjected to unwanted sexual behaviours or attention in public spaces. Additionally, more than half (58.9 per cent) of transgender people ages 15 and older report having been physically or sexually assaulted, while three in five trans women and girls have experienced intimate-partner violence. The impacts of gender-based violence are felt disproportionately by 2SLGBTQQIA+ people facing intersecting forms of marginalization on the basis of disability, race, Indigeneity, age, caste, income level, and family status.

Shelters and other support services are critical to combating gender-based violence. Banning trans and gender-diverse people from these spaces will exacerbate discrimination and inequity facing an already marginalized community. Amnesty International Canada echoes the calls of gender-justice organizations, advocates, allies and affected communities and affirms that an attack on trans people is an attack on gender and women’s rights more broadly.

“Targeting trans women is a dangerous distraction that threatens the lives and rights of 2SLGBTQQIA+ people and diverts attention from the real systemic causes of gender-based violence,” said Khokhar. “Politicians serious about ending gender-based violence in Canada must base their policies on the facts rather than harmful and divisive rhetoric.”

(Header photo credit: Wiktor Szymanowicz/Future Publishing via Getty Images)