The important work of human rights commissions
Some people think the only reform necessary to Canada's human rights commissions is to remove the "thought crime" provisions that have ensnared the likes of Mark Steyn and me. Some people think that the rest of the work of these commissions is important for the truly downtrodden in our society.
They have no idea what they're talking about.
I've already written about two absurd cases in Alberta that have nothing to do with "hate messages" -- the restaurant that was convicted and fined $4,900 for daring to fire a kitchen manager who contracted Hepatitis; and the hair salon that was taken to a hearing because a male student was called "a loser" by the girls (the salon was eventually "acquitted" -- and like me, forced to bear thouands of dollars in legal bills, and hundreds of hours of time).
The Globe's Margaret Wente sat in on an Ontario Human Rights Tribunal Hearing and has news of an even more pressing violation of human rights that must be remedied by the government!
First up on the witness stand was Michelle Boyce.... . Although raised male, she said she'd always thought of herself as a woman (despite the fact that in her 20s, she had married and fathered two children in the customary way).
In 2001, she had sex-change surgery in Wisconsin... But the surgery wasn't perfect. One side of her new labia was bigger than the other, and she had a flap of skin that made sex painful. "I was having some issues I wanted resolved with my genitals." Then she read an article about Dr. Stubbs and labiaplasty. "It was exactly what I was looking for," she said. "And it quoted a good price." It wasn't until she was in the examining room that she bothered to mention she was a post-operative transsexual. At that point Dr. Stubbs (rudely, she says) ended the consultation and invited her to leave. "I chased him down the hall and grabbed his arm and said 'You can't do that.' But he walked away." Shattered by his rude dismissiveness, she bawled her eyes out on the front steps, then lodged a complaint with the human rights commission that very same day..
The complainants get a free lawyer from the human-rights tribunal to argue their case, but the respondent is on the hook for his own legal bill.
Dr. Stubbs's medical insurance fund is picking up the tab for his lawyer, who's probably billing $500 an hour.
During the lunch break, I had a sandwich with Michelle. Her gestures were feminine. But up close, she looked more like a guy than a girl.
She had a man's big hands, big teeth, broad-bridged nose, and coarse facial skin. She told me she'd be happy to settle for $30,000 or $40,000.
Her friend, Jenn Finnan, is the other complainant in the case.
Ms. Finnan had been undergoing hormone treatment prior to sex-change surgery, and wanted Dr. Stubbs to augment her breasts so they wouldn't be going up and down all the time. Jenn, who's 45, doesn't look or sound like a guy at all. She looks like a tall, cheery, middle-aged, overweight woman with thinning blond hair. I liked them both, even though I thought their sense of outrage and entitlement - fuelled for years by the administrative apparatus of the human rights commission - was absurd.
Dr. Stubbs's defence is straightforward. He had no surgical experience with transsexuals. The chest structure and post-operative genitals of transsexuals are not the same as those of biological women, and thus, the complainants' transsexual status was medically relevant.
Finally, like any doctor who performs elective surgery for a fee, he has the right (and duty) to decide who is and isn't eligible for his services.
Over lunch, Michelle told me that the demeaning treatment by Dr. Stubbs "had a profound effect on the rest of my life." After that, she became a full-time activist. Today she has a government-funded job investigating the health status of the transsexual population.
She and Jenn also have a small business that's hired by big companies to do diversity awareness training, especially around transgender issues. Business is good. They get a lot of work courtesy of human rights commissions.
Calling these commissions "kangaroo courts" is an insult to kangaroos. I predict that Dr. Stubbs will lose. The case isn't about real human rights, it's about these two freakish plaintiffs' rights to be "affirmed" by him, and if not by him, then by this bizarre government agency. And, like Richard Warman, they seem to have a pretty cozy relationship with the commission to begin with.
Wente says she thinks this is a slam dunk for the doctor. But I think that's because Wente is still in a state of shock from experiencing a commission's "work" for the first time. Look around on the commission's website, and you'll see these two transexuals' cases are spot-on with the "law" of Ontario. I can't quickly find Ontario's recent HRC decisions; they seem to be about three years behind on uploading the judgements. But the case of the angry transsexuals suing the ambushed plastic surgeon for hurt feelings is pretty much just a "day in the life" of these commissions.
We have to continue to denormalize them, which is pretty easy -- just let the world know what they're doing.