By: Ilse Mendoza
As of September of this year, Hockey Canada has agreed to allow minor hockey players in Ontario to decide what dressing room they feel comfortable using depending on the gender they identify with.
The new dressing rooms will also allow players to be called by their chosen name and preferred pronouns.
This is a huge step in the right direction for transgender rights. It’s always good to see gay rights move forward, but to see transgender rights move forward is deeply refreshing. The fight for their rights has always been seen as secondary as if gay rights are inescapable, but transgender rights are merely optional.
There are a few concerns that surround the idea of transgender bathrooms, which will undoubtedly surface regarding Hockey Canada’s decision sooner or later. The most prominent of these concerns is the potential for a cisgender man to take advantage of these dressing rooms in order to harass women. There is also the unease of some that transgender girls will have a leg up because physically they’re still males.
I don’t mean to brush off these concerns but with 87% of trans youth reporting physical abuse, 44% reporting physical abuse, and 26% reporting a history of life-threatening behaviour, I think it’s past time that we prioritize trans youth.
If that’s not enough to convince that we don’t give trans youth the importance they deserve, consider looking over the National School Climate Survey. In it, 55% of transgender students admit that they avoid school restrooms for fear of abuse, among other things, and 51.7% admit that they avoid locker rooms for similar reasons.
I also feel an uncertainty and it’s one that I haven’t seen expressed in any article covering the situation. It pertains to the limitations of these new dressing rooms. They will only be available for minor hockey players and it will only extend within Ontario. Hockey Canada has stated that it has no intention to implement the change beyond Ontario.
This of course raises a few doubts. Mainly, did Hockey Canada agree on a settlement before the complaint had time to go viral and cause problems for them? Or does it genuinely have in mind the best interests of all its players?
It might be easier to understand if they didn’t extend this change to every province at once, but to state that there are no plans to do so in the future calls into question the nature of the decision.
What ever the reason behind the settlement may be, there are transgender teenagers who no longer have to feel masked, who alternatively can feel safe doing what they love and for this I am grateful.