The big talk among Trinbagonians has been the proposed National Gender Policy, and it goes without saying that a lot of that talk has been extremely loud and incredibly bigoted. In keeping with that, the Pentecostal Assemblies of the West Indies (PAWI) recently released a statement in the print media denouncing certain clauses of the policy.
I’ll be real with you – with all the government spin about same-sex marriages and whatnot, I had honestly neglected to take a look at this National Gender Policy. And, lo and behold, PAWI says that this policy calls for a legalization of same-sex marriage. I agree with them there, for now. Our country isn’t at all ready for giving homosexuals any sort of marriage rights under any name and within any statute. We haven’t even dealt with the bigotry and stigmatization that the LGBT-phobic behaviors stem from. Putting them on the altar is not going to protect them from discrimination.
However, legally changing the definition of gender to apply to those under the umbrella of trans-sexuality is one of those steps that every society needs. Not everyone needs to come to terms with another person’s gender identity, any more than people have to like me for being an atheist. But allowing trans persons to be legally identifiable – and identify themselves that way and still as a citizen of their state – is one of the first ways that we take off the yoke of discrimination and allow individuals to truly take pride in themselves and their nation as well.
And, while I’ve always been torn on this topic, giving women the choice of abortion means that they get to call the shots where their own body is concerned. Not only is it a very powerful legislative step for sexual and reproductive rights, but it may just socially empower women to take control of their bodies and tear away from an ever-present rape culture…who knows? Besides, a legal framework for abortion means that women have an opportunity to get one safely and by a trusted professional in a secure environment, after counselling and evaluation. Women are having them anyway, in horrible conditions, getting sick and sometimes dying. A legal entry point means that abortion doctors need to be registered and can be sued for malpractice, that an abortion can be added to a woman’s medical history if necessary, and with medical registering and counselling it might even mean less abortions. Yep, legalizing abortions might lead less women to deciding that’s what they absolutely need, because a medical professional has told them the risks and given them options, including that one if they still want to.
So in sum, PAWI (and other religious groups like Lawyers for Jesus) have messed up in trying to push back legislation that gives voice to a voiceless segment of the population and grants women a special autonomy over their own bodies.
May God have mercy on their souls.