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LN Feature: Woman Means Something

On the feature this week, a conversation with Pastor Paul Dirks of New West Community Church in New Westminster, a suburb of Vancouver. Pastor Dirks and his congregation have started what they’re calling the “Woman Means Something” campaign. It is a response to Bill C-16, a federal law to add the terms “gender identity” and “gender expression” to the list of grounds under which discrimination will be prohibited in the Criminal Code and the Canada Human Rights Act.

LN: Pastor Dirks, can you give us a brief summary of what your campaign is, and what you’re hoping it’ll do?

PD: Yeah. We were kinda late to the table in understanding Bill C-16 in that it had already passed the House of Commons. It was about four months ago that this came across my plate, and we just kind of got – myself and a couple of others – got excited about the need to oppose Bill C-16 from a women’s rights and protections perspective. So the campaign of course is “Woman Means Something”, and the idea is that even though this bill is well-intentioned in regards to trans individuals – wanting to protect them and their rights – that it inadvertently pits gender-based rights against sex-based rights, and that the people that are going to suffer the most in that are gonna be women and children. Really, we’re seeing the erasure of women’s protections and even (their) very identity under law taking place before our very eyes.

LN: So you’ve received some flak for this position. There has been press coverage – in the New Westminster Record for instance, (and also on some of the pro-trans blog sites and such) – they’re arguing that you’ve got the approach wrong, and that what’s underlying this is the idea that you’re trans-phobic. What do you do with accusations like that?

PD: You know, whenever I hear that, I always make sure that I say “Listen, I love trans people, and I love de-trans people.” (Editor’s note: “De-trans” describes those who want to undo their “gender transition”.) De-trans individuals are starting to become more and more prevalent in social media, (and they’re) going to show up eventually in the medical literature. These are people that are in many cases opposed to the mass media trans narrative, especially when it comes to transitioning children, but even more broadly than that. You know, I love them, I love trans people, and it just seems to me like labeling somebody as trans-phobic is the easy way out instead of wrestling with the actual arguments and the logic that comes behind campaigns like ours.

LN: The campaign poster that I saw says “Prime Minister Justin Trudeau – in order to be a feminist, you have to believe that “A Woman Means Something”. Why did you decide to choose this particular angle?

PD: We essentially wanted to use Mr. Trudeau’s very vocal feminism to try to raise awareness of the problem of Bill C-16, which is the erasure of women’s identity. Recently I had a conversation with Senator Mitchell – I’m very thankful for that opportunity – and I asked him about women’s identity and the value of women. And he wanted no part of that conversation, which is just so ironic, that these people that claim to be feminists can’t say what it is that is either unique or invaluable about women. You know, the kind of ideology that’s behind Bill C-16 as well as Bill C-16 itself means that we cannot define gender anymore. We can’t define women. Which then leads to all sorts of problems with having a “women’s movement”, “women’s protections”, “women’s sports”, or having “women’s anything”, once you can’t define what the word “woman” means.

LN: Now we both know that the Bible is very distinctive in many respects as far as women are concerned. The idea of being created in the image of God and thus equal before Him kind of set Christians apart from the secular morality that really has no sound foundation for respecting women (or anybody). It also sets us apart from many of the world’s other religions, some of which relegate women to the status of property; certainly to a status that’s subservient to men. Now saying that, are you concerned in any way about emphasizing the “feminist” aspect of this, particularly when feminism has become so closely tied to the abortion movement?

PD: You know, I think that this is how politics works. You look around to those who are allies, you try to work with them. And you know we’re clear on where we stand on other issues. For instance, when I have either a radical feminist or even a lesbian radical feminist that comes in and is willing to work with us in our organization and in the campaign – willing to write articles or whatever it is – I’m very upfront about who I am as the organizer of the campaign. I mention that I don’t support gay marriage. You know, I mention that I’m a social conservative. And we know that there’s opposition between these two groups over human rights and unborn rights, and this is something that means a lot to me. And yet I’m finding that, right across the political spectrum, people are willing to work together on this issue. Because if you think about it, it means nothing less than the entire rollback of women’s rights; you know, everything that’s been accomplished over the last fifty or hundred years.

LN: Part of the reality with Bill C-16 is that it’s already passed the House, and is now before the Senate. The opposition to the bill is starting to increase to the point where Senators aren’t even engaging directly with constituents on this anymore, they’re just telling their staff to take messages. And some of the candidates in the Conservative leadership race are starting to come out against C-16 now; they’re starting to see problems with it, even though some of them voted in favour of it when it came before the House. So the fundamental question is: “Is there time to turn this issue around?”

PD: One of the reasons I’m so hopeful is because of some of the new data that’s coming out (with respect to the de-trans movement). This is a real problem for the mass media trans narrative. In the literature, rates of regret for transition are small; 3 percent, maybe even lower than 3 percent. And also, the follow-up to transition (is) also very low. You know, 40 to 50 percent cannot be followed up afterwards. And I think that until recently, the supposition has been that those who could not be followed up were doing reasonably well, and now it’s coming to light that hiding in this non-followed-up group are tremendous amounts of people that are not satisfied with transition. That it hasn’t helped their gender dysphoria. And I think we’re gonna start to see this reflected in the medical literature over the next couple of years as people grapple with huge amounts of people coming forward saying these things. So I think the tide is turning. I think we are either moments before – or maybe at the peak of – the turn of a tide, and I think that now is the time for people to make their voices heard on this issue.

LN: Beyond C-16, do you have any thoughts on how Christians – how the Church should approach the whole issue of transgenderism?

PD: I think that we need to offer the hope that exists from the Bible, and I think that the Bible’s prescriptions for sex and gender – whether it’s rooted in Genesis 2 or Ephesians 5 – I think these are the solutions for people. The Bible’s message for men and women and for those wrestling with the brokenness that exists in this world is there for anybody who wants to seek and find. And the church needs to be open to that, and not scared of engaging.

Keep showing the love of Christ. Sometimes it’s not always easy. There’s all sorts of people that tell me that I can’t possibly love a trans person while opposing a Bill that is for their rights. But we do this with courage and with truth and grace. And we need that mix as we do it courageously.

Bill C-16: Gender Identity and Expression, Gender Identity Email Us 

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