In a continuing series of videos about the proposed Charter of Secular Values in Quebec, a transsexual citizen named Michelle Blanc testifies before a national assembly commission in Quebec City.
Many thanks to Susan Victoria for the translation, and to Vlad Tepes for the subtitling:
See the links at the bottom of this post for more videos of citizens’ testimony on the Charter.
Additional material provided by the translator:
Fatima Houda-Pépin: She just quit the Québec Liberal Party (anti-Charter) after serving 20 years as an elected member of her riding. She is a Muslim, the only Muslim elected to-date in Québec, and is in favor of the Charter (most of it). She is highly respected in Québec for her integrity and she is very knowledgeable re Islamic fundamentalism. She also got the anti-Sharia motion adopted by the National Assembly back in 2005 or so.
Excerpts From Michelle Blanc’s Testimony at the Commission Hearing:
I am here to address you as a woman, a grandmother and a lesbian. I will not speak to you as a transgender, since I have no legal existence in Canada.
Every day I am a victim of sexism, contempt and rejection.
I studied in psychology, cultural anthropology and religious studies… I understand the religious-cultural phenomenon.
I also understand that communication includes verbal and non-verbal, and the evocative power of non-verbal symbols is very strong.
We all remember that small piece of red fabric that held so much power, that half of Québec was in turmoil over because of this tiny symbol.
Therefore, whenever we see big crosses, when we see veils, when we see all types of religious symbols, of course, the connotations are very powerful.
It’s forbidden to advertise to children, because they are easily influenced…
Yet, there are some who are willing to allow our young children to be in the presence of veiled women all day long.
When a child starts to reason, many questions go through its mind: Why do you wear a veil? Why don’t men wear a veil?
Why, when my daddy comes to pick me up, you do not shake his hand?
And maybe, once at home, the little girl will tell her mother: Mommy, me too, I want to wear a veil.
Is this what we want for Québec? I doubt this very much.
No later than last week, a lady who is highly respected in Quebec, Lise Payette, was in the hospital and she was shocked that the veiled employee refused to wash her genitals. This veiled employee told her that her religion forbids her to do so.
It seems to me that the time has come to reinforce secularism in Quebec, to make it clear to new immigrants that men are equal to women and the LGBT people are not “freaks” who deserve to be spit on, nor should they be beaten, I think.
Yet, not too long ago, Media Mosaic invited me as a speaker to address their association.
This group promotes the integration of cultural communities in the media.
And when my turn came up to speak, I came forward… half the hall emptied, all those that were wearing conspicuous symbols left. It’s not me that left. It’s them that left.
I would love it if they didn’t spit on the ground when I walk by, that they walk next to me.
And on the day when they were talking about women who were being harassed, on that same day, as I was walking by two veiled women on Ontario Street, they spat next to me on the sidewalk.
The religious symbol has become a tool for propaganda that is highly loaded morally with regards to the images it conveys.
People can have different perceptions of a symbol.
Obviously, for me, when I see a pineapple, I immediately think of a Pina Colada.
Yet, as we speak, in France, when they see a pineapple, they immediately think of anti-Semitism, and everything associated with Dieudonné.
It is not the pineapple’s fault, we agree. But the symbolism associated to a fruit has become very powerful in France.
Then, at some point, you might be the best child psychologist in the world, it becomes tricky to answer a child’s questions without steering it one way or another.
To date, I haven’t seen any research on this subject and the media isn’t interested in this issue.
But how can a veiled woman explain to a child why she wears the veil without proselytizing?
We’ll take a hypothetical example. You’re a young Arab and you need counseling because, precisely, it turns out that you’re gay. You’re not already very, very well accepted in your community, you have trouble talking. You go for counselling and the psychologist that shows up wears a hijab.
In the past three years, I’ve had three death threats; the most recent is still under investigation. I’m a little publicized because I have a big mouth and I express my opinions.
I’ll tell you, when I go on television as a transsexual, I’m considered a freak.
But when I appear on TV as a renowned expert for internet marketing or digital economy, not a word is said about the fact that I’m a transsexual.
|0:01||…obviously, fundamentalism is not, but|
|0:05||really not very friendly towards the LBTG community.|
|0:10||Whenever I see a hijab, my first thought is|
|0:14||of gays being hanged high up in the public square…|
|0:27||and, of course, the kids are invited, it’s a family show.|
|2:04||When I see the veil, I see the gays that|
|2:08||are assassinated, beaten, I see women being stoned.|
|2:13||I see the gender gap, male-female, this is what I see.|
|2:17||It’s weird, I was just reading an article by Vincent Marissal|
|2:21||who is obviously anti-Charter, and in his article, there was a photo|
|2:25||of a woman taken at the National Assembly, dressed from head to toe,|
|2:29||walking five feet behind her husband. So, when we say that|
|2:33||a woman’s life is worth one-half of that of a man’s,|
|2:37||when we say that a woman must walk five to ten feet behind|
|2:41||her husband, well, at what distance must I walk|
|2:45||and what is my life worth? These are questions I ask myself.|
|2:49||Difficult questions. Questions that, as a taxpayer, I shouldn’t have to deal with|
|2:55||when using a public service.|
|2:56||For the fundamentalists, a woman has no place in the public arena.|
|3:00||So, if by coincidence or through necessity, a woman must go outside,|
|3:08||and be seen in public, she must remain ‘invisible’.|
|3:13||And to avoid being noticed, she must hide behind her own prison.|
|3:18||And this way, we don’t see her figure, her facial beauty, her hair,|
|3:22||because these are objects of seduction.|
|3:26||A society that is secular, a society that we promote as being secular,|
|3:30||that showcases gender equality, well, I imagine that people|
|3:35||that want to come here will know it,|
|3:40||and they’ll say ‘we’re going there for that reason, we’re fed up of being harassed|
|3:44||by religious dictates in our homeland, and finally we can be free’.|
|3:49||Me, it’s that freedom that I want for everyone,|
|3:53||regardless of where they come from. We’re here in Québec, a secular society,|
|3:57||you can believe in what you want, but do it in your home,|
|4:03||and when we’re in the public space, we’re all together and we’re all equal.|
|4:07||Nobody will be more pure or less pure.|
|4:11||Of course, me, I am very very proud of the high number of women here|
|4:15||at the table, I’m real proud of this.|
|4:19||But I know there are many areas in the world where, because of religion,|
|4:23||this is unthinkable. The women wouldn’t be here but rather in the next room|
|4:29||wearing distinctive signs that say ‘you, you are not a man,|
|4:32||you’re half a man and you should walk behind the man’.|
|4:37||In the back there. There’s the little place upstairs for the women (girl in white).|
|4:41||I don’t want this happening here in Québec.|
|4:45||And I want it to be known. And I want it to be acknowledged|
|4:51||as a matter of law. Everybody is equal.|
|5:04||Is it normal for a little 6- or 8-year old girl to go to school with a turban on her head?|
|5:08||Me, I think that scientifically, it has been proven that kids are born without a religion.|
|5:12||So there’s an indoctrination process that follows.|
|5:16||Can’t we give our kids a chance to grow up and after, they can choose the religion they want?|
|5:20||It seems to be it would be a good idea.|
|5:24||It seems to me it is your duty to ensure this.|
|5:29||Religion, you know, it’s the male that controls the female and the woman is beneath.|
|5:33||And us, the LBTG, it’s even worse. We’re far far below…|
|5:37||We’re already in hell, don’t you know. Me, I’m already the devil, we agree?|
|5:42||And they make me feel this way. It seems to me that in Québec|
|5:46||we should develop a secular space where we could|
|5:51||You mean to say where we’re all equal regardless of our origins,|
|5:54||sexual orientation, our native tongue, the color of our skin, we agree? (Minister Drainville)|
|6:00||It’s exactly that. This is the result of secularism.|
|6:04||Secularism doesn’t take anything away. There are people|
|6:08||trying to make us believe they’ll be penalized. Hey!|
|6:12||I’m sorry but if we started counting those that suffer because of religion, I think|
|6:16||that the number would be much higher. So, if we gave ourselves a secular space,|
|6:20||we would be helping those who are being bashed|
|6:25||for ideological purposes.|
|6:29||This is what we are trying to do now.|
|6:34||We’re helping people who might shoot themselves in the head.|
|6:38||You know, the suicide rate among gays and transsexuals is very high.|
|6:42||Among other things, this suicide rate is due to cultural and religious pressures.|
|6:48||Me, I know…|
|6:53||that my life is in danger when I visit other countries.|
|6:58||I know that my physical integrity is in danger when I walk|
|7:02||in certain Montreal neighbourhoods.|
|7:06||So, I would really like to be able to walk anywhere in Québec and|
|7:10||not have to worry about rocks being thrown.|
|7:14||Now, it’s not only fundamentalists, there are stupid Quebecers also.|
|7:18||Stupid people are everywhere, except that in the case of fundamentalism,|
|7:22||there’s a sharp increase with regards to misogyny, homophobia and trans-phobia|
|7:26||because now it’s justified culturally on top of it.|
|7:30||Would you agree with Yolande Geadah who says that religious symbols|
|7:37||introduce the notions of a symbolic barrier and inequality between people|
|7:42||wearing them and others? (Minister Drainville)|
|7:46||Well, of course, it does. They’re symbols. A symbol signifies something.
Previous posts about Quebec’s Charter of Secular Values:
|2014||Jan||22||With What Will We Be Protected?|
|22||Time to Ask Ourselves Questions|
|30||“No One Will Silence Us”