Trans Yukoner isn’t one to retreat from a fight
“You have two spirits.”
“You have two spirits.”
It is a look of pride that takes over Chase Blodgett’s face when he recounts what one of his co-workers said to him when he returned to work in Mayo after coming out to the public of his intentions to transition from a female to male.
Blodgett, 29, started his transitionary journey when he made the decision to post a “coming out” video on his personal Youtube channel in September 2014.
He was nervous about what people’s reactions would be, especially the hockey community, which was akin to a family to him.
“But I thought, ‘Telling them is not going to be worse than torturing yourself,’” he said in an interview Thursday afternoon.
And just like that, change in all sorts of forms was in the air.
A couple of months later in December, the Women’s Hockey Association (WWHA) drafted a board policy permitting transgendered players to participate in the league.
Blodgett began carrying a petition in his back pocket, looking to gain support in a motion to amend the Yukon Human Rights Act to explicitly include “gender identity” and “gender expression” under section 7 as prohibited grounds for discrimination.
The motion also calls for the use of public education and support for full equality and respect for the transgendered population.
The petition had about 130 signatures when it was brought to the legislature last month.
Shaun LaDue, a transgendered man from Ross River, had voiced his concerns about the human rights act to NDP justice critic Lois Moorcroft, who put the motion forward to the assembly.
MLAs held a debate to discuss the motion to amend the act on Wednesday afternoon.
Although all sides seemed to be in favour of the motion, Justice Minister Brad Cathers presented an amendment to the first part of the motion.
It read that the government would “consider” making amendments to the act “the next time it is reviewed.”
After the debate, a subamendment passed unanimously—the word “considered” was removed from Cathers’ amendment.
However, the phrase indicating that the act might be amended “the next time it is reviewed” was also passed unanimously.
There is no specific date set by the Cabinet to review the act before the end of the Yukon Party’s five-year mandate in 2016, or beyond.
“We’ve seen this government move with great haste when reviewing other acts, and we’ve seen molasses in February in other cases,” said NDP MLA Kate White.
The government does not appear to be in any sort of a hurry with this issue.
“The government’s position is that these rights, although not explicitly listed in the Human Rights Act, are already protected, as they should be,” said Cathers.
Here, the minister is referring to Section 7’s “sexual orientation” as grounds for discrimination.
Blodgett argues that sexual orientation does not protect him and others in the transgendered community, as it is defined by whom one is attracted to.
He said that trans is as diverse as the rest of the cisgendered population—that is, those who identify with their gender assigned at birth.
If Blodgett were to ever go to court to file a complaint for discrimination, he told the Star, “There’s an underlying fear that the litigation will get lost and clouded over in defining whether my rights
are protected or not.”
While the motion passing may seem like a step in the right direction, that sense of vulnerability will dissolve only once the gender identity rights are legislated.
He indicates the next step in the fight would be to determine a timeline with the government for the act to be reviewed.
Although Blodgett admits that pushing for these rights already feels like a full-time job, he isn’t one to back down from a fight.
“When I see an injustice, I can choose to let it go, walk past and complain about it. Or, I can choose to pick it up, look at it and think, ‘What can I do to fix this?’”
Since the government is already in full support of explicitly listing the rights for persons who are transsexual, transgender or gender-variant, it is simply a question of when this might occur.
Until then, Blodgett continues to educate others about the challenges trans Yukoners face.
He is motivated by children in the school systems who are starting to identify as transgendered.
“Knowing that these kids are coming behind, I just want it to be easier for them.”