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Address to Public Board by Mother of Transgender Child, Sept. 15, 2015

September 18, 2015

Today I am here for not only my child but all the Transgender children in the Catholic system.

I am not going to stand here and remind you all that on May 19th you publicly promised a policy will be drafted with the help of myself and others educated on this matter; I also won’t to remind you of the profound difficulties  that your decisions or the lack thereof put a little girl and our family through. What I will do is  confirm a very disturbing statement that the chair of this board has stated: “we serve two masters; we exist at the will of the bishop”. You are accountable to all that elected you and mostly importantly the children you promised to have the best interests of. We will hold you accountable for every tear shed, blood spilled, and unsuccessful or successful suicide attempts of the Transgender kids an uneducated policy will impact. I question whether the committee of superintendent’s along with Archbishop Smith and Bishop Henry have consulted with experts in this field or at the very minimum anyone that has personal experience of being transgender. To date their resources have not been identified.  By allowing a policy to be adopted without education on, compassion for, nor understanding of the topic of Transgender, is blasphemy all in its self. This policy isn’t about me, Marni Panis, or even the Catholic faith.  It’s about the children you promised to nurture, guide, and educate which should include cisgender and transgender alike.

Today is not only about the rights, responsibility and obligations of care of all children, its also about accountability of our actions. I hold myself accountable for being naïve enough to believe what this board has told me about having my child’s best interest at heart, when to date, that wasn’t the case. I hold myself accountable for begging on more than one occasion for this board to do what is right, when that too should not have been required.  I hold myself accountable for not making a bigger fuss when this board passed around a utube video where a priest compares being transgender to the equivalent of pretending to be a dog or having anorexia. I have entertained this board for many months now. I have offered support, education, and have been silent on your absurd accusations about my parenting skills.

I would like you to do the same for me. I’m going to ask that you close your eyes and picture a little 7 year old girl being told no you can’t use this washroom. Now picture a teacher following the little girl into a washroom telling her she doesn’t belong, that there’s a bathroom that was made just for you– that’s the one you use. Now the girl is told she needs someone to walk her to the washroom, she can’t go alone. See the little girl curled up crying asking why God would do this to her and asking for her short life to end. Listen to that 7 year old girl as she looks at you and tells you she endured this treatment even though she  was born a female that identifies as female. Take a moment and ask yourself would I have done anything different for this cisgender child or would I have handled this girls situation the same as what recently happened in our system. If your answer is yes then hold yourself accountable and vote on a well-educated policy. If your answer was no then hold yourself accountable for not being honest with yourself.

As a final remark I would like to remind this board and more importantly Bishop Smith and Henry, that religion does not trump human rights. I chose to have my children enrolled in a school system that allowed them to share in my faith. This ordeal has challenged both my children and I about what our faith holds. As noted by Pope Francis, our faith must reflect basic human rights. As such this policy needs to be aligned with human rights rather than archaic religious principles.

As a final remark I would like to remind this board and more importantly Bishop Smith and Henry, that religion does not trump human rights. I chose to have my children enrolled in a school system that allowed them to share in my faith. This ordeal has challenged both my children and I about what our faith holds. As noted by Pope Francis, our faith must reflect basic human rights. As such this policy needs to be aligned with human rights rather than archaic religious principles.

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