Councillor wants Plympton-Wyoming to oppose a transgender health bill

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Former Camlachie resident Candace Mills speaks to Plympton-Wyoming council during a debate about transgender health care.

Council voted against Van Klaveren’s motion

A move by a Plympton-Wyoming councillor to have council oppose a provincial bill on transgender health services has failed.

Councillor John Van Klaveren wanted council to oppose Bill 42 which would create a committee to advise the province on transgender health services. The members of the committee would be from the LGBTQ2 community.

In his motion, VanKlaveren said the bill is “is progressing very quickly and sets into motion aggressive and drastic events in an area that needs significant consideration through long-term studies to ensure the province provides an exemplary level of health care to the residents of Ontario” and that children are vulnerable and need parental guidance.

“Our social environment has greased the wheels of confusion and fear. What was right is now wrong and what is wrong is now right. To direct minors in truth was compassionate, now it is considered hateful and bigoted,” the motion read.

“If we are not advocating for our children, we are surrendering our children. Fear is being used as a hammer to force us to conform at the expense of our youth. Be motivated by fear to do the right thing rather than the wrong thing. Courage is contagious,” Van Klaveren wrote.

The motion also suggested people who are “de-transitioning or those with significant health problems” should also be on the committee and questions whether the surgeries should be covered by OHIP.

Van Klaveren’s motion was posted on the municipal website earlier in the week and councillors were flooded with emails about it. Councillor Mike Vasey said he received over 100 emails from both those opposing the bill and those who think the committee is necessary.

Wednesday night, it was standing room only in the council chambers with supporters of Van Klaveren and those carrying transgender flags and shirts. About 20 people stood in the hallways and more were standing on the sidewalk outside hoping to hear to the council debate.

All councillors but VanKlaveren said they didn’t think this was an issue for a municipality council to debate.

“As a councillor I was elected…to be in these chambers to do municipal business,” says Councillor Alex Boughen. “I don’t feel qualified nor do I feel I have the mandate.”

He added municipal councillors deal with roads and drainage issues. “To some, those may seem like small peanuts – those smaller peanuts are what I was elected to discuss and debate upon.”

A couple of councillors also voiced a personal opinion. Councillor Mike Vasey worried about the financial implications of transgender health services to OHIP saying this would be “opening a door wide open for persons wants and needs not for a medical necessity.”

Councillor Kristen Rodrigues was concerned about the tone of Van Klaveren’s motion. “We are all humans first and we all deserve equity in our health care system.”

Seeing the overflow crowd, Mayor Gary Atkinson allowed one person to speak in favour and opposed to the motion.

Marika Sylvain Groendyk – a public relations specialist from the Camlachie area – reminded council this was a bill which would form an advisory committee to the government only and that other marginalized communities have had the same opportunities. And she voiced concerns about the “unwelcoming tone” of Van Klaveren’s motion.

“We have the opportunity to do better here. We have the opportunity to share that we are a welcoming community and we can do that with the decisions we make in this room today…Passing this motion writing a letter, we would do the exact opposite.”

Candace Mills, a former Camlachie resident who owned Flora & Forage, told councillors her business went bankrupt after voicing her view on the issue. “I am not transphobic, I believe in two genders,” she said.

“I have lost everything because I chose to stand on the right side – on God’s side,” Mills said urging councillors not to allow doctors to “cut up children.”

In the end, council turned down the motion by a vote of 5-1.