Trans activists and progressive politicians block funding for Vancouver rape shelter
I was outraged yesterday to discover that Vancouver City Councilors Sarah Kirby-Yung, Pete Fry, and Christine Boyle, at the drone-like beckoning of trans-ideologue and BC NDP Vice President Morgane Oger, presented a resolution to deprive the Vancouver Rape Relief (VRR) women’s shelter of funding unless it began allowing male-bodied individuals access to its intimate services.
As a result of Kirby-Yung, Fry, and Boyle’s resolution, along with Oger’s campaigning, 2019 will be the final year VRR qualifies for its city funding until it agrees to change its female-only policy. The VRR is Canada’s oldest rape crisis shelter and had been providing 24-hour services for women who were the victims of male violence. They also provided specialized education on violence against Indigenous women and women of colour, which is something I can specifically appreciate.
The assault on VRR is a but a single, extreme example of a women’s only space being eliminated to satisfy angry, radicalized biological males who demand female acquiescence for identity validation.
And female acquiescence seems to be the only thing that trans-ideologues require to “be” or “feel” female. Vaginas do not make a woman, nor do having uteruses, the ability to bare children, give birth, or experience the systemic, life-long discrimination and oppression that has historically only come with having those things. No, those don’t “make” a woman at all. The only things that “make” a woman, and are fundamental to the mental wellbeing of radical trans-activists, is access to bathrooms, gynecologists, and—now—rape shelters.
Prisons are another place where women have disturbingly been deprived of their ability to be free of the male body. It is no surprise or myth that many women in the correctional system are survivors of domestic abuse and/or sexual violence. In other words, the victims of men. But trans-women have demanded access to these spaces—penises, sex assault convictions and all – in some odd form of “woe is me” that much resembles the narcissistic self-victimization that one could expect from abusers. Oh, and lest we forget patting men on the back on, what else, but International Women’s Day.
The misogyny of these trans-activists should be inherent in their delusion that they can become women, totally. Totally, as such, to the point of there being a movement of trans-women with male bodies demanding recognition as lesbians. In fact, 60% of trans-women identify as “lesbians,” and actual lesbians who, understandably, are not attracted to their male bodies have been decried as the “penis police” and as “transphobes.” In any other circumstance, a male body demanding a female body provide it with sexual recognition would be rightfully considered abuse.
If it is not clear now, then it should be apparent be in their manipulation of language. Othering females so as to differentiate and separate them from their own sex—cis women, how I hate that term – as though we were anything but authentically, simply, women. The lovely Barbara Kay precisely defined this as the “dilution of women.”
If, still, an argument is needed to convince you of the incredible hatred of women these radical trans activists harbor, then you only need to look to their invention of a slur to define and defile women who advocate for women—TERF (Trans-exclusionary radical feminist). As though feminism had some sort of obligation to include men, and do anything more than advocate for women as women, trans activists have taken a page straight from the ghosts of misogyny’s past in creating a bite-sized version of “feminazi.”
Women who seek the uncompromising liberation and safety of women from the influence and ire of men are trash who deserve to be doxed, de-platformed, and put in their place. Where is that ‘place’? That which the penis has decided, of course! The non-penis. The external vagina. The front hole—That disgusting, dehumanizing term that could have only been thought up in a distinctly male brain. Apologize, acquiesce, and give access to those services which were created to help women escape those very female penises in the first place.
I’ll never forget my first reading of that Germaine Greer classic, the Female Eunuch, and how one sentence penetrated me so deeply; “Women have very little idea of how much men hate them.” Greer, a women’s rights icon, was one of the many casualties of trans activism, and was thoroughly de-platformed in 2017-18 after 47 fucking years of feminist activism for her comments on trans women. Those comments? That trans women were not women. They could never be or understand what it was like to be.
Understanding femaleness is important. The impact of “trans women are women” is far reaching and isn’t limited to giving male bodies access to women’s spaces. ‘Trans women are women’ inherently denotes that the idea that women suffer a distinct, unique form of oppression at the hands of men – an oppression which shaped and defined them, is gone. How can women experience a distinct, targeted form of sexual, gender-based violence if women, effectively, do not exist? If they are social constructs, transient thoughts in the mind of whoever decides they’d like to be one?
Acknowledging this type of incomparable oppression would mean acknowledging a distinct experience, which would mean acknowledging the need for distinct spaces and distinct rights—which is what women have had up until now. It would mean an inimitable identity, one that could not be appropriated through hormones, wigs, and lacy underthings.
Trans activists would literally rather deny the concept of a unique female oppression than admit the existence of un-appropriable femaleness.
And if that doesn’t convince you of how much these people hate women, I don’t know what will.
A jury of eleven has ruled against a father who was attempting to prevent his seven-year-old son from being administered puberty blockers by the boy’s mother and doctor.
Jeffrey Younger will also potentially have to refer to his son James as “Luna” in order to affirm the boy’s gender identity. The father has referred to the treatment of his son as “sexual abuse” by the mother, Anne Georgulas. Court documents show that James prefers to wear boy’s clothes while with him and to be referred to as a boy.
”I want you to imagine having electronic communication with your son on FaceTime, and imagine that your ex-wife has dressed him as a drag queen to talk to you,” said Younger.
“Now imagine how you would feel seeing what I believe is actual sexual abuse—I believe this is not just emotional abuse but is the very, most fundamental form of sexual abuse, tampering with the sexual identity of a vulnerable boy.”
James’ mother is seeking to have Jeffrey’s parental rights removed “for not affirming James as transgender” according to The Federalist and she is also seeking to have him pay the bills for therapy and hormone treatment.
While James is not currently being administered the drugs, he could face the potential of chemical castration if undergoing hormone treatment after the age of eleven.
“Every. Single. Day. You have to see your son sexually abused, and you have to maintain your calm. because the courts are not going to be fair to you. And the only way you can survive this and get your son through this alive is to calmly allow your son to be tortured right before your eyes and outlast the opposition. That’s what it’s like,” said Younger.
The founder of the Miss Marijuana beauty pageant has made it clear. It does not matter if you are pre-op or post-op, you aren’t allowed in his grow-op, leaving some outraged and crying sexism.
Howard R. Baer’s competition will be restricted to natural born women only. Since making the announcement, he has come out and explained why his stance is neither sexist or transphobic.
Many of the articles I had seen online were quick to lampoon Mr. Baer for his comments that the majority of transgender people “have not had the operation” and that “most of the men still look like men.” But my curiosity got the better of me, and I decided to call him myself, as to hear it from the horse’s mouth rather than receive potential misinformation.
I had seen original reports that the pageant was limited to the United States, which left me confused. As we all know, Canada has just recently legalized Marijuana in October of 2018, leaving a clear untapped market for the competition.
I raised this concern to Mr. Baer who decided to clear the air on this. “It’s the United States and Canada, I think we have about 400-500 girls from Canada already signed up.”
I asked if he thought he was getting more interest from Canada with it’s small population compared to the U.S., to which he chuckled and asked “I don’t know? What’s the population of Canada?”
I let him know that Canada is similar in size to California in population, with each near the 38 million mark.
“We’ve got well over 5000 girls signed up already. I’m just gonna guess that we’ve got somewhere between 300-500 from Canada. It’s pretty substantial. The truth is, initially, we didn’t have Canada on there, but then one of our major sponsors is from Canada, so we put it on there and it’s been really good.”
The parameters as to what Miss Marijuana entails was a bit of a mystery to me. Mainly, I wondered, does the future Miss Marijuana need to have an extensive knowledge about weed? And does she even need to smoke weed herself?
“At this point almost everyone knows about marijuana. Our thing is that we don’t want to force young girls to smoke marijuana, that’s for damn sure. Our main thing is that they’re pro-marijuana, not against it. You can’t be campaigning against marijuana.
Marijuana friendly is mainly the thing. Some people vape, some people chew gummies, some people use CBD.They aren’t smoking it, and to us they don’t have to be.”
Another question I had was concerning the prizes. On the website, the winner receives $25,000 and “a vehicle. In the example photo, a Jeep Rubicon is shown, but underneath the photo there’s a clear footnote that states, “vehicle shown for example only.”
I wondered to myself, is this not the vehicle that will be won? Although it is true that a vehicle will be won, Baer informed me that there has not been consensus yet as to what the car will be, but he’s leaning towards the Jeep.
And of course, I had to ask Mr. Baer about his comments on “natural born women” being the only contestants allowed in the Miss Marijuana pageant.
Again, i was a bit confused, and so I asked Mr. Baer the question we were all wondering: What if they’re really passable?
“The problem with it is, you’ve got a lot of them who have not had the operation, and we’ve got a lot of young girls, as young as 18, girls going to the pageant, I spoke with a lot of them and the general perception is that they feel uncomfortable walking in there with someone that has what you or I have. Right?”
Mr. Baer says he’s acting from a place of understanding. “I totally get that. I wouldn’t want her in there if that were the case. I don’t want people uncomfortable. It’s not the mainstream by any means. I’m not against it. I run two websites that are LGBT friendly, it’s not a prejudice or anything like that. Will we change it five years from now? Maybe! I don’t know.”
On top of that, Mr. Baer is quick to point out that his rules are more lenient than the rules surrounding other competitions. He says that Mrs. Universe is really the only competition that allows trans people in their competition.
“The fact is that, when you look at the comparisons, to Miss USA, or any of them, they won’t allow someone that’s married, that has kids, that’s pregnant, that’s had an abortion. They have to be 100% naturally born, that’s the way they are. We don’t have any of those rules here. You have to be single, because it’s miss marijuana. If you have kids, fine.If you were once married? Fine, if you had an abortion, fine. We’re the easiest going ones out there. And we’re getting slaughtered for it.”
For more information on the Miss Marijuana pageant, you can find all the information needed here. What do you think of the pageant? Let us know in the comments below.
Months ago, I tweeted that sports would be “where the rubber hits the road” on deference to trans ideology, because affirmation in sport of biological males who identify as women cannot co-exist in harmony with a level playing field for women. That burning smell? Rubber is hitting the road—hard. The latest incident in women’s medal erasure comes from Connecticut, where two transwomen sprinters took gold and silver at a girls’ track championship.
Sport is one area where the community will resist “social justice” initiatives if they conflict with sport’s bedrock principles of a level playing field and zero tolerance for cheating. Up until about five minutes ago in the long history of sport, that meant women competed against women and men competed against men in all sports where advantage lies in size, power and/or speed.
When a biologically male runner or cyclist who ranks as middle of the pack in men’s races becomes the gold medallist in a Women’s race, he cheats the silver and bronze women athletes beside him on the podium, and especially the woman who came in fourth. But he also cheats people who came out to see a clean race. Joe and Jane Public know unfairness and reality denial when they see it, and it sucks all the joy out of the word “competition” for them.
“Inclusion” has become an obsession in our culture. But normally there are logical limits to inclusivity that nobody objects to. Only citizens can vote. Only people with a certain level of health and fitness can join the Armed Forces. But sport associations that used to accept limitations and categories based in principles of reason and fairness are now prepared to sacrifice both on the altar of trans reverence.
Gender Studies and Sociology, including Sport Sociology, are currently marinated in theories of gender fluidity and social construction. The PhDs in these specialties are then hired as “gender identity experts” by sport associations in order to help formulate policies on “inclusion.” They invite LGBT advocacy groups as consultants as well. Nobody involved in these working groups even pretends to bring objectivity to their task. Back in the day, they were activists for women’s interests. Now they are activists for trans interests. But in sport, inclusion for trans cannot help but result in exclusion for women.
These advocacy groups will go to extraordinary lengths to make their point. We saw that last week when 62-year old, 18-time Grand Slam tennis singles champion Martina Navratilova, one of the greatest athletes of all time—and an icon for leadership in gay acceptance—was unceremoniously thrown under the juggernaut of trans activism.
Navratilova’s “crime” was to publish an op ed in London’s Sunday Times decrying the penetration by transwomen of women’s sports, asserting that it was “cheating and unfair” for biological males to compete against women.
Martina, for all her celebrity and stature, is spitting into the zeitgeist. She is part of Sport’s unwoke binary past. Athlete Ally, a U.S. non-profit LGBT-supportive organization, for whom Martina was an ambassador, stripped her of her title and turfed her from their editorial board. They accused Martina of transphobia, alleging her comments were “based on a false understanding of science and data.” (The irony of the charge is pretty rich, coming from an organization whose assumptions can only be sustained by a rigorous rejection of “science and data.”)
Athlete Ally is one of a constellation of LGBT advocacy groups that “are helping sport organizations in Canada become more inclusive.” This quotation is taken from the Canadian Centre for Ethics in Sport’s most recent policy paper, “Creating Inclusive environments for Trans Participants in Canadian Sport.” Designed as a policy guidance tool for sport organizations, it was developed by the ‘Trans Inclusion in Sport Expert Working Group,’ which I will hereafter refer to as the EWG. If you want to get a flavour of the kind of anti-science Kool-Aid our sports brain trust is drinking, read this document.
It begins factually enough. The paper notes that the vast majority of sport participation in Canada is focused on recreation and development. At this level, trans inclusion is not a big deal, because it’s all about fun and skill building. It is only for the “very small minority” of Canadian athletes who continue into high performance that competitive advantage becomes an issue. Enter the EWG. And here we leave facts behind and enter La La Land.
Sex, the EWG says, “is usually assigned at birth.” No. Sex is established during gestation according to chromosomal development. Sex is observed at birth, not assigned. Gender, the EWG says, “is not inherently connected to one’s physical anatomy.” No. Sex and gender are connected for 99% of humanity, and therefore “inherent” by normal metrics.
The definition of the word “trans,” for sports purposes, according to the EWG, “includes but is not limited to people who identify as transgender, transsexual, cross dressers (adjective) or gender non-conforming (gender diverse or genderqueer).” This is quite a puzzling mashup. Cross-dressing males do not believe they “are” female. Neither do non-conforming males and females who have no wish to transition.
But the document does not address this important inconsistency, nor the alarming imprecision of “not limited to.” From what they state in this definition, EWG is okay with cross-sex competing by biological males who do not believe they are females and females who do not believe they are male, but whose appearance or fetishes are atypical for their sex. We’re off to a very confusing start. Things don’t improve.
Indeed, to be trans can mean almost anything an individual wants it to mean (“not limited to…”), according to this document: “It is important for sports organizations to understand that each individual is different. There is no single transition process and each person will make different choices,” including, significantly, “whether they undertake hormonal or surgical transitions.”
And “[a]n individuals’ personal choice to not use hormones does not make them any less trans nor do these choices change their right to be recognized as the gender with which they identify—man, woman, both or other.” In short, the definition of trans, to be accepted by official governing sports bodies, is left entirely to an individual’s “sense” of gender identity, completely untethered from biology.
For contrast (for now): The International Olympic Committee (IOC) requires female trans athletes to take hormones for a year before competition (they used to require two years). The National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) asks for one year of hormone therapy on the grounds that androgen deprivation and cross sex hormones reduce muscle mass.
The EWG does not deny that transwomen may have an advantage. Shockingly, they don’t care. They say: “the EWG acknowledges the concern that trans women athletes who grew up biologically male and who do not undergo hormonal intervention may be at a competitive advantage when competing in high-performance women’s sport. Nonetheless it is recognized that transfemales are not males who became females. Rather these are people who have always been psychologically female, but whose anatomy and physiology, for reasons as yet unexplained, have manifested as male.” (Emphasis mine.)
“Always”? Many adults who develop gender dysphoria after puberty or later had normal childhoods. Most children who exhibit gender dysphoria in childhood reconcile their gender with their natal sex in adolescence, although a high number of them turn out to be gay. Rapid Onset Gender Dysphoria (ROGD), which exhibits many elements of a social contagion, is an escalating phenomenon that occurs without warning after puberty. A certain number who thought they were transgender desist later. In fact, those who “always” considered themselves the opposite gender from earliest childhood and who never waver in this belief for a lifetime, are a minority in the domain of gender dysphoria.
In any case, this statement is in direct conflict with the EWG’s assertion elsewhere in the guidelines that “these individuals should be able to participate in the gender with which they feel most comfortable and safe, which may not be the same in each sport or consistent in subsequent seasons.” (Emphasis mine.) They are saying that a transwoman may “be” a male in one sport and may “be” female in another from one season to the next. There is no “always” present in such a scenario.
Even if some transwomen athletes have “always been psychologically female,” sport is not about athletes’ psychological state; sport is about athletes’ bodies, and what they do with them. Which begs the paramount question of why individual psychology should trump physiological reality on the playing field at all.
As if the rabbit hole were not already deep enough, the EWG concedes that although “participants in men’s sport, on average, out-perform participants in women’s sports, current science is unable to isolate why this is the case.” (Emphasis mine.)
Can anyone with a working brain read this statement without laughing? Could it be that males outperform females because women are on average about 9% shorter than men? Because peak male bone mass is around 50% more than women’s? Because men are 40-50 muscle% by weight and women are about 30-35% muscle by weight? Because men on average have larger hearts and lung capacity, higher metabolic rates?
Hand grip is a marker for overall strength. The strongest 10% of females can only beat the bottom 10% of men in a hand grip contest. In speed events of all kinds, women are about 90% as fast as men. The fastest women will be beaten by boys on high school track teams.
Women’s ligaments are thinner and softer than men’s. Which is why women in combat training suffer far more injuries than men.
For heaven’s sake, when a women’s national soccer team loses 7-0 to a team of under-15 age boys, we are way beyond “anecdotal” evidence. So you simply can’t say “unable to isolate why” men are in general stronger and faster than women with a straight face. The weasel words here are “current science.” Translation: pseudo-science promulgated in the pseudo-discipline of Gender Studies. According to “current science,” the data and statistics that are considered settled by, you know, science, are ignored and replaced by theories that have no basis in evidence or the scientific method.
The guidelines offer even more unintentional humour, when they insert “A note of caution.” The EWG recognizes “that an unintended consequence of this policy guidance on hormone therapy for high-performance sport may be that a trans individual consider, or be pressured to consider, delaying the use of hormone therapy in order to realize some perceived or real competitive advantage in their sport.” (Ya think?)
Additionally, “sport organizations may want to consider how it might deal with any complaints about ‘gender impostors’ in high-performance sport. It is important to recognize that cheating of this type—presumably men masquerading as women in order to achieve a perceived advantage in women’s sport—is unprecedented and considered highly unlikely.”
There it is again: the admission that biological males have an advantage over biological women. The “presumably” is a coy deflection; it reeks of disingenuity. I reached out for comment on this issue to EWG member, former Olympian runner (1964) and the most influential academic voice in Canadian sport, Professor Bruce Kidd of the University of Toronto’s Faculty of Kinesiology and Physical Education.
Kidd conceded in an email to me that biological males might have an advantage in competition, but “we did not think that any advantages that MF trans might possess…have been shown to be so significant that they merit policy exclusions.” He added, “No one would ever say that sports offer a completely level playing field. As a social scientist, I can point out that personal and national income is the most closely associated with Olympic medals.”
At first I found the first comment baffling. The International Association of Athletics Federation (IAAF), which is quoted in the CCES guidelines that Kidd signed off on, accepts that “male athletes have a competitive advantage over female athletes to the order of 10-12%.” How are these stats not significant in a domain where medals are won on the basis of .01 seconds?
But then I realized he was saying men do have advantage, but the advantage of transitioned male-to-females athletes is no different from the random distribution advantage within a sex category (biological, economic or social), as per his second comment.
In response, I say that as long as biological sex is the primary categorizing principle in sport (for now), the categories need to be either enforced or eliminated. Para sport, for example, is divided into many categories for degrees of disability. But they would certainly not allow an able-bodied person to compete against paraplegics, no matter how deep their “sense” of transableism.
As to economic advantage, Kidd certainly makes a good point, even if it is not relevant to the discussion here. It is indeed troubling that a multitude of talented youngsters are constrained by financial obstacles from opportunities to realize their dreams. But there is an easy solution to that form of inequality: Increase funding to ensure Canada’s talent pool widens and deepens. Biology, however, is an immutable form of inequality. No amount of money, no form of regulation, can change that.
If the EWG really believes that the male advantage is not significant, they should consider abolishing sex categories altogether. But they won’t do that, because even ideologues know that would be the end of women in sport. The fact that nobody, not even those arguing most strenuously for parity between women and transwomen, is complaining about the reverse problem, transmen winning medals in men’s sports, should shame the ideologues into admitting the hard truth this disparity represents. But they won’t do that either.
Their compromise was to inflict a handicap on every woman in sport competing against a transwoman, and hope that the relatively few women athletes affected would have drunk enough social-justice Kool-Aid to accept that transwomen are exempt from the zero tolerance for cheating rubric. (Which by and large they have done—so far.)
And why does the EWG consider it “unprecedented” and “highly unlikely” that cheating of the kind they do recognize as cheating—identifying oneself as trans when one isn’t—would occur? The history of high-performance sport is rife with athletes who have cheated by doping. Offering the legal opportunity to enter the record books by competing against females, with no questions asked and no moral judgment levied against them, is tantamount to allowing any male athlete who is willing to lie about his psychological state the right to dope, is it not?
In fact, the more one thinks about it, the more it looks like “gender imposterism” could end up as a feature, rather than a bug, in the execution of CCES guidelines.
There are some observers of the lunacy that the CCES document exemplifies, such as conservative Selwyn Duke in this American Thinker article, who sees this great injustice to female athletes, as feminists’ own petard upon which they have now been hoisted. Feminists have insisted all these many decades now that social construction, not biology, has been the only obstacle to women achieving parity with men in every field of endeavor. If only women had the same opportunities, they have claimed, they would perform equally well. Duke says there is “poetic justice” in this logical extension of presumed equality.
I agree that radical feminists dug themselves into this hole, but I take no pleasure in their comeuppance. They aren’t the ones training five or six hours a day for years to realize their dream. Radical feminists are the proponents of anti-scientific theories about women and men’s psychological natures. They are way off base in their repudiation of evolutionary biology, true, but most athletes are not ideologues of any kind, let alone gender theorists. They just love sport. They know their bodies intimately and what they are capable of. They are very well aware of the differences between male and female bodies, and they do not observe these differences through the lens of social justice, but of realism.
So most athletes reading this document will know in their hearts that they are reading a catechism, not a policy paper grounded in any reality they recognize. But athletes tend not to rock political boats, as it takes time and effort to beat against the current, a distraction from personal goals. They keep their heads down and focused on their disciplines. Those girls and women athletes need these injustices redressed on their behalf, not smug taunts that they had it coming to them.
We are seeing the trickledown consequences of the EWG’s trans-reverential stance in the wholesale adoption of these guidelines, after a two-year consultation process with the CCES, by U Sports, the governing body of Canadian university sports. They are now in effect at U Sports’ 56 member institutions. All these institutions have, consciously or not, embraced a misogynistic policy in the name of gender inclusivity. On the up side, nobody could possibly call them “transphobic,” a fate worse than death to many cultural elites.
The rubber hitting the road in sports sparked a flame that now threatens to break out into a wildfire. It is clear that many of sport’s ethical gatekeepers have lost sight of their mission. The sport world needs to give its head a shake, break out of its politicized trance, and step back from ill-considered policies like those of the CCES.
Stakeholders in sport should understand that activists of all stripes always demand more than they expect to get. I am sure that delighted trans activists were quite surprised that the amateur sport world, when told to jump, didn’t negotiate limitations that would protect women athletes’ rights, but simply asked, “how high?”
Female athletes need to know that their coaches, managers and associations will stand up to politically correct tyranny. CCES’s political masters must do whatever it takes to protect women athletes from medal erasure, in order to restore honour, presently corroding in plain sight, to Sport’s founding principle, “Play Fair.”
In the name of equality, Breanna Needham, a lawyer in Toronto called to the bar in 2016, wants lawyers to use one unisex change room at Osgoode Hall, the stately Georgian building in downtown Toronto that houses both the Law Society of Ontario and the Ontario Court of Appeal.
A petition she started on the social action website change.org points out that there are 12 lockers in the change room for women but 75 lockers in the change room for men.
This disparity in availability of lockers, she writes on the website, is “just one representative example of the systemic inequality that is pervasive in the legal profession.” Since half the practicing lawyers in Ontario are women, she reasons that “there is no basis upon which they should be allocated this much less than the men in anything in the profession, let alone space.”
Fair enough. If it is cramped quarters in the female change room at Osgoode Hall, then let’s see if we can find more space.
Turning the argument into a human rights complaint and demanding unisex washrooms, however, seems like an overly dramatic solution to a simple problem, and seems like a solution that ignores difference. I wouldn’t want to be changing with the opposite sex in the same room and I know there are women who feel the same way I do.
In an interview, she doubles down on her human rights complaint. “[T]he robing rooms also serve as gathering places where lawyers network and talk about their work,” she said. “Shutting women out of those discussions excludes them from mentoring, informal negotiations and other potentially career-advancing connections. There’s a barrier here and it has an effect. [A]ll should be able to access it equally.”
Considering that construction of Osgoode Hall started in 1821, and it wasn’t until 1897 when the first woman, Clara Brett Martin, was called to the bar, the more likely reason the female change room is smaller than the men’s is that there were simply not a lot of women practicing law when a change room of their own was first built, and not as she purports, a consciously imposed barrier against women advancing in the legal profession.
Certainly, the disparity in the number of lockers or size of the change rooms was a not barrier to Bertha Wilson being appointed as the first female Justice to the Supreme Court of Canada and before that in 1975, as the first female judge of the Ontario Court of Appeal. Nor was the size of the change rooms at Osgoode Hall a barrier to Laura Legge Q.C., in 1975, being elected the first female to the governing body of the Law Society of Upper (as it was known then) and twice elected to lead it.
Needham’s criticism that men-only clubs deprive women of networking opportunities is valid. But those days are long gone. Her conclusion about what goes on in the male change room is based on an article in Canadian Lawyer magazine that described the room as having the feeling “inside … of a male locker room in an old-money golf and country club.”
I use the room regularly. It is a nice change room, but regardless of its feel it’s still simply a change room with lockers and a doorless entrance to the washroom area. No one sits around drinking brandy out of crystal snifters smoking cigars.
I asked a female colleague what her side of Osgoode Hall was like and I invited her to the men’s side for comparison. She confirmed that her change room was 1/3 the size but it had all the same amenities; desk, couch, chairs, and phone.
Another female colleague found Needham’s comments to the media that “women need access to men for mentorship in order to succeed in the legal profession” insulting to the many fine female barristers. Perhaps Needham is not aware that since 2007, the Law Society has selected a recipient of the Laura Legge award to recognize women in Ontario who have exemplified leadership in the legal profession.
Unfortunately, female members of the Toronto Lawyers Association (TLA) that oversee the change rooms at the Superior Court of Ontario at 361 University Avenue in Toronto, after reading about Needham in the media, counted the number of lockers there for men and found that the men had more lockers and space than women.
One woman was shouted down when she explained that a reason could be personal lockers can be purchased for a yearly fee with TLA membership. If the women lawyers want more lockers for themselves then they can pay for it.
The triviality of these arguments is not lost on the public. As one reader wrote in a comment section to the online news coverage of her story, “These are the kinds of ideas that a very expensive education gets you? We are screwed.” Other comments veered toward the prurient.
The reality is that women, primarily in Western countries, have made dramatic advancement. So much so that Needham and the 600 people who signed her petition must look with microscopes for any perceived micro-aggression, like locker room space, in order to feel relevant.
No wonder a 2019 survey of 2,039 women in the U.S. reported that 54 per cent of millennial women did not identify as feminists.
If there is a demand for more lockers, then let’s see what can be done.