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This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at Oxford Emory chapter.

2016 has been a year of ab obsession with political correctness. From Hollywood stars to senate holders, most everyone seems to agree, political correctness (PC) is the correct path for this country to take. I suppose this makes the increasing popularity of the anti-PC movement a surprise to some, but a long time coming to others. Many people are starting to believe that PC culture has gone too far, especially with the passing of Bill C-16 in Canada. The Bill ensures that transgender and nonbinary people are not discriminated against, and allows for non-compliant individuals to be placed in jail for up to two years for such acts, such as refusing to use the preferred pronouns of an individual.

Supporters of the bill claim it provides additional security and necessary protection from discrimination, but when did discrimination become not calling someone by their preferred pronouns? Proponents claim that the issue is one of respect and Bill C-16 secures said respect for transgender and nonbinary people. This statement in itself does not make sense. How exactly is using someone’s preferred pronouns showing respect? I could very well hate transgendered people, but still use their pronouns because I wanted to be perceived as an ally. Respect is not something that can be perceived by word choice alone.

There is this archaic notion of forcing people to respect you, which is something that this bill propagates. You cannot force someone to respect you, respect is earned. If someone chooses not to respect you solely because you are trans, then they are not good company and I suggest you leave. I understand there may be situations in which a trans person cannot get out of the situation, but nothing is forever and everyone has been disrespected by jerks at one point or another. There are so many people with varying views on the world, so it would be strange if no one was ever disrespected. That’s not to say that this world is ideal, but it is reality.

Why is the public now unable to make their own individual decisions about who they will and will not respect? This law seems to be assuming that most everyone in Canada is bigoted and would not respect transgender or nonbinary people on their own. Human beings are not of a hive mind, and we all have different ideas and perceptions of the world. It makes no sense to assume anything about such a large group of people based on geography.

Theres also the issue of personal autonomy. People are allowed to hold any opinion they like. I can think the sky is magenta and grass is purple if I want, and I would be incorrect of course, but I could still do it. If someone does not respect you, you cannot force them to, especially not under the law. This Bill is proposing that people must behave a certain way, in certain situations, with certain people and the government doesn’t have the right to regulate what behaviors are and are not socially acceptable.

Isn’t it strange that a group of people that want to much to be integrated into society are now trying to separate themselves from the rest of society, in the first place? With this bill, everyone would be forced to consider if someone was transgender or nonbinary. All people should be viewed in terms of their personality and behavior, not their gender or gender identity. Forcing people to look at gender and gender identity could have disastrous consequences for the transgender and nonbinary community. When someone is forced to confront a particular situation everyday knowing that an incorrect confrontation could have disastrous consequences, resentment naturally beings to build for the object of confrontation. This bill has the potential to ruin the hard won progress transgender and nonbinary people have been fighting for.

Professor Jordan Peterson of the University of Toronto has been speaking out against the bill claiming it infringes on free speech. The essence of his argument contends that nobody has the right to force anyone else to use a particular kind of language around anyone else. By getting the government involved, it has now become not an issue of rights, but of free speech. Bigoted speech is still free speech, no matter how much anyone disagrees with it. Allowing the government to take away some freedoms in the name of justice will open the world up to mass censorship. No matter how righteous the cause, censorship is never a good thing. If a bill like this can get passed what’s to stop the government from taking away other rights under the guise of protecting citizens?

In the end, is the bill really helping transgender and nonbinary people? By deciding to respect someone based on their gender or gender identity, don’t you become the very definition of a bigot? How is respecting another human being in anyway related to their gender or gender identity? Bill C-16 assumes the worst of humanity, and demands that citizens use the “correct” language around certain groups of people. There will only be more anger and misunderstanding if we force people to act in a way there are not used to. Let people decide for themselves how they treat others, be it good or bad, because the alternative is a dictatorship.