Recent news surrounding the Ontario PC Government’s intent on removing education around gender identity from the school curriculum under the guise that “gender identity theory is a liberal ideology” is dangerous and misleading, especially to transgender and non-binary human beings.
Let me get this out of the way. Theories on which education and social policy are based are grounded in research. Theories are the basis from which policy is driven, they are not plucked from the sky to support the ideologies of a political party. I draw from my experience as a social worker, as social work practice and education is about linking theory to practice, the practice being support and removing oppression. Gender identity theory is real and necessary and backed by science and social research. The World Health Organization supports this as do numerous Canadian professional associations.
Now for the most important part…These are HUMAN BEINGS, not a theory. These are children, youth, adults, and seniors, and when we minimize humans to a theory, we step into dangerous territory. It is dehumanizing and contributes to the idea of Us vs. Them. When we remove the human element, we apply a label of “other” and remove our connection to them. When we remove connection, we remove compassion, and this leads to society turning a blind eye, stigmatization, and oppression.
To combat this we educate, we teach it in the schools, we add in the human element, we facilitate the conversation. Without education, we breed ignorance and perpetuate hate. We don’t teach science the way we did 50 years ago, why would we do the same with education around gender identity? Teaching these topics in our schools facilitates compassion and understanding in those who don’t identify, and feelings of normalcy in those that do. Teaching kids about gender identity does not turn them transgender, just as telling little ones that gay people exist doesn’t make someone gay. People are born this way.
Further, when rhetoric like this is tossed around recklessly and for political gain, we are using human beings as pawns. Over the past few days, I have had conversations with real live humans whose identities are being put into question for political gain. It breaks hearts and instills fear. If you don’t feel this heartache and fear, please recognize the privilege that you hold, and use it to support those who may be struggling right now.
To those of you who identify as transgender, non-binary, gender fluid or two-spirited, please know that you are loved, and you are not just a theory.