By Mashable’s Nicole Bazell, Jane M. Adams, Tyneka Dooley, Linda Wang and Raymond Wahlin
A federal judge is scheduled to rule Friday on whether transgender athlete Jenna Talackova’s discrimination lawsuit against Canadian athlete and former Miss Universe Canada hopeful Reza Moridi should continue.
Talackova, a 23-year-old transgender woman who was born female, sued Moridi in a Toronto court last year after he banned her from competing in that national competition because she was born female. The federal district court judge has since thrown out that case, saying there was a “clear conflict” between the federal Human Rights Code and the Canadian Human Rights Act.
Friday’s ruling will address whether her transgender status is covered under the Human Rights Act.
Talackova, who came out as transgender in 2012, had her hormone treatment approved by the World Professional Table Tennis Association, and underwent electrolysis and facial reconstruction surgery as part of that treatment in 2014.
The Toronto Star, citing two unnamed sources with knowledge of the case, said that Canadian human rights advocate Tony Merchant had written a letter on Talackova’s behalf to the judge last week. The letter referenced statements made by Canadian Conservative leader Kellie Leitch, including one where she suggested in 2015 that a law banning transgender people from “baking a cake for a gay wedding,” was “offensive.”
The letter reportedly said: “My client was a victim of Mr. Moridi’s discriminatory views and regardless of the fact that she has had no medical intervention whatsoever to change her physical appearance, he should not be allowed to stand in the way of what is her fundamental right to compete as she sees fit.”
Pray for Canada
On June 28, Temporarily Resigned (Purnima Kashyap) tweeted a Bible verse with a message that “love is patient, love is kind, love never tires.” Hours after it was posted, she left the photo and her Twitter account, creating an outcry on social media.
“Upon reading this it left me speechless. She has just taken herself out of the running to be a member of our national Olympic committee because her religious views exclude her from team proceedings for the sake of another,” wrote Shiva Ayyadurai, who placed fourth in the 2006 UK Parliament election. He went on to tweet: “Pray for Canada!”
And in the hours after Kashyap left her account, her page became a window into a contentious social debate about tolerance for all different walks of life.
“Do you condemn human rights abuses in #MiddleEast for intolerance of ummah? FKK churches? Do you express your concern for murder & rape in #Qatar? #Turkey? #Egypt? #Saudi? #Libya?” wrote one user, referring to “honor killing” and “sectarian” persecution.
Another Twitter user said: “Moral fools clearly believe that supporting discrimination against transgender person = support for weak and vulnerable people. @PrayforCanada.”
Criticism like this appeared to frustrate Kashyap, who apologized in a tweet for her social media missteps.
“I take full responsibility. I can’t undo the damage caused, but I can try to correct it,” she wrote.
In her posts, Kashyap spoke about her transition, stating that “hell hath no fury like a woman scorned.”
“My whole life has been an uphill battle against the system,” she said. “Today’s struggle is to overcome entrenched stereotypes and a homophobic society.”
Canada’s gender identity laws
Currently, 17 provinces and territories in Canada have transgender protections in their human rights codes.
In April, Toronto became the first city in Canada to extend its human rights protections to cover the identities of transgender and gender nonconforming people, and last December, the University of Toronto announced that it had made resources available for students to support the mental health of transgender students.
With recent successes, transgender advocates say people are becoming more comfortable with their non-binary or gender-neutral identity. The “David and Goliath” thesis holds that transgender people are fighting against societal forces that promote anti-transgender norms and discrimination.
On Tuesday, Toronto Mayor John Tory said he expected discussions around the issue to be given further consideration in the upcoming 2017/2018 budget.