Transgender Ottawa woman urges lawmakers to pass new rights bill
Zoe Knox and her family have been invited to the House of Commons Tuesday for the bill's reading
An Ottawa transgender woman who also has a 13-year-old transgender daughter says she feels "joy and "excitement" but also "fear" over anticipated federal government legislation that would give legal and human rights protections to transgender people.
Zoe Knox, 43, said the forthcoming bill will be a "huge step towards acceptance" for people like her and her daughter Alexis.
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The Liberal government is set to table legislation on Tuesday — the International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia — that will seek to eliminate discrimination of transgender people.
The legislation follows through on a pledge the party made during the federal election campaign.
Fear the bill won't be passed
Knox called the bill "essential" and is urging lawmakers to move forward with it, after similar legislation was defeated twice before in the Senate.
"There's definitely a little bit of fear ... that it won't pass, that it will get stalled somewhere like the last time around," said Knox.
Knox said society has come a long way in accepting transgender people since she was young, but she said discrimination still exists.
"There's always a fear that without this legal protection something could happen. I could get denied a job. I could get refused a home. I could get refused a credit card or mortgage...without any real recourse," said Knox.
"So what this bill does is it prevents all of that stuff from happening."
The proposed legislation is also an "exciting" development for Amanda Jette Knox, Zoe's wife and Alexis's mother, who said she "burst into tears" when she first heard about the bill.
"When Alexis came out, one of the first things I did was Google trans issues ... and what you see is discrimination ... bullying, rejection, job loss, poverty, suicide. And that terrified me," said Jette Knox.
"The fact [that the bill would] make it illegal to openly discriminate against Alexis is going to change her life."
Couple hopes for less 'sensation'
The women said they hope the legislation will make their family less "sensational" to the public.
"I think that's what I'm really hoping for, is that the more we talk about this, the less people are going to want to hear us talk about it, because it just won't be fascinating," said Jette Knox.
Zoe Knox said she also wants the bill to signal to others they'll be supported and accepted if they come out.
"For most of my life I had just shut down pretty much all emotions," said Knox. "It was more like existing than living, so now I'm actually living. And it's a very full and happy life."