A prominent Ontario Progressive Conservative tried to push “gender identity theory” back into the spotlight last week, urging her party to debate removing it from the curriculum in the province’s schools.
Tanya Granic Allen, a social conservative who this year was a candidate for the leadership of the party, introduced a motion at a party convention calling gender identity — which references the development of one’s gender through the adoption of certain roles and behaviours — “unscientific liberal ideology.”
Her motion, which was approved, said that when the PCs hold a policy convention next year they should debate the resolution that gender identity theory is “a highly controversial, unscientific ‘liberal ideology’; and, as such, that an Ontario PC Government will remove the teaching and promotion of ‘gender identity theory’ from Ontario schools and its curriculum.”
Since then, Premier Doug Ford has said he will not move forward with the resolution.
Prior to the PC convention, the Ryersonian spoke to Robert Molloy, a co-ordinator for an on-campus trans equity group at Ryerson, the Trans Collective. Molloy said using pronouns that people identify with make a space more inclusive.
“I’m Robert and my pronouns are he/him,” said Molloy, a third-year politics and governance student. “I don’t speak on behalf of trans folks. Pronouns are a common way for trans folks to know they’re in a safe space.”
Molloy said he knew that it would be a challenge to explain to professors that his name and pronouns are different than what the attendance sheet says.
“It’s like referring (to) someone that does not exist anymore,” he said.
Some may assume his pronouns are she/her based on some of his femme-presenting features but according to Molloy, not using the correct pronouns makes him feel uncomfortable.
“I’m slowly internally collapsing on myself,” he said. “Even though I’ve told them a thousand times, and I know that means you’re not taking my conversation seriously.”
Molloy said it might take some time for people to understand why pronouns are important, but it’s a practice to identify others the way they want to be identified.
“It’s that simple of a pronoun switch,” he said.
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“If I tell someone my pronouns and they use them. I know they care about how I feel in the situation,” Molloy said.
“One of the best ways to be an ally in a trans community is asking pronouns,” he said. “Sometimes you have to be uncomfortable to make others feel comfortable and that’s what being an ally is.”
Molloy’ said his least favourite reaction from people is when he introduces himself and people joke about his pronouns.
“It actually just makes my life a lot harder.”
He said he recognizes that not everyone is in the same stages of learning and using the pronouns someone identifies with may be new to them.
“I love it when people say to me I’m really trying to learn,” he said. “Like that’s great. I love when people are learning and recognizing their mistakes and moving forward.”
Molloy has been invited to give trans-101 presentations and said that one of his favourite memories is when he spoke with a Grade 7 classroom at a Toronto private school.
After reading a personal poem about his experience as a trans person, he opened the floor up for questions and was surprised at what the students asked.
“They were not concerned about my transness,” he said. “They asked other questions but they wanted to know me as a person.”
A couple of students raised their hands and asked what he does with his spare time, what his favourite animal is and what kind of ice cream he prefers.
“That’s one of the moments where I’m very hopeful.”