The Man Who Speaks for Canadian Women, Even on International Women's Day
By Eva Kurilova
Marni Panas, born Marcel Panas, is an Alberta man who claims to be a woman and likes to talk about how authentic he is. Recently, he was also invited to speak on a panel at an International Women’s Day event called "She Is" organized by Discovery House, a Calgary-based women’s charity.
Two real women were invited to join Panas on the panel of “women leaders and change-makers across a variety of sectors”: Mandy Stobo, an “artist, entrepreneur, actor and mother,” and Christy Morgan, an “Indigenous Strategy Lead.” Discovery House also invited Canadian journalist Anna Maria Tremonti to give the keynote speech.
The decision to have a man speak on the panel is interesting, considering the mission of Discovery House is to help women and children fleeing from domestic violence which, the vast majority of the time, is at the hands of men.
According to its Annual Report to the Community, Discovery House receives funding from the Government of Alberta and from the City of Calgary Family & Community Support Services, listing both among its “strongest and consistent supporters over the years.”
Say what you will about the conservativeness of Alberta, the province is well and truly captured by gender identity ideology. It is home to a number of top “trans” influencers pushing the ideology in Canada (among them Charlotte Dalwood, who Gender Dissent has previously covered).
Panas himself works as the program manager for Diversity and Inclusion at Alberta Health Services (AHS) and is a Canadian Certified Inclusion Professional (yes, that’s a real certification).
According to his website, he provides diversity and inclusion services to “health care professional colleges and societies, health centres, municipal and education governments, community services organizations, police services and other first responders, corrections facilities, corporations, and other institutions locally, nationally and internationally.”
Panas is also an “AHS Permanent Support Person” for SOGIE PAC (Sexual Orientation Gender Identity and Expression Provincial Advisory Council), which advises AHS “about issues related to sexual and gender minority communities.”
Panas began claiming to be a woman at the age of 42. In 2014, he told Global News that, earlier that year, he sent his friends, family, and colleagues an email that read, in part: “March 21, 2014 will be my last day in every part of my life as a man.”
Prior to this, Panas performed as a drag queen, calling himself “Marni Gras.” He also told Global News that, while dressed up in drag, he enjoyed the validation that came from being told he was “beautiful” and being “the most popular person in the room.”
However, he blamed the belief that his body did not match his “mind and heart” on the fact that he was a very angry man at home. At the time, Panas was married to the mother of his son, who he called “the love of his life.” The two have since divorced.
After announcing his “transition” and taking a brief vacation with his family, Panas returned to the Stollery Children’s Hospital as the family-centred care coordinator (his former position within AHS). Interestingly, the Stollery Children’s Hospital is also home to the Stollery Children’s Transgender Clinic.
Once he began identifying as a woman, Panas immediately launched himself into transgender activism. He has now been at the centre of many gender ideology-related law and policy changes not just in the province, but in the country.
In 2015, he was directly involved in writing the language for Bill 7, which added “gender identity” and “gender expression” to the Alberta Human Rights Act.
Disastrously, the Alberta Human Rights Act now protects gender, gender identity, and gender expression, but not sex.
The way it was originally written, “gender” was likely assumed to be synonymous with sex. However, Bill 7 then came along and replaced “gender” with “gender, gender identity, gender expression.”
Today, the Alberta Human Rights Commission defines “gender” as “the state of being male, female, transgender or two-spirited.”
By including “transgender” and “two-spirit,” this is not a definition rooted in biological sex. It is essentially just another way of saying “gender identity,” which means that women in Alberta aren’t actually protected on the basis of our sex. Thanks, Marni.
Panas made the news again in 2016 as an advocate for Bill 10. The bill mandates that schools can not refuse student requests for “diversity clubs” and that they must allow students who identify as transgender access to the washrooms and changerooms of the opposite sex.
Panas attended an Everyone Can Pee rally at the Alberta Legislature grounds to support the bill, where he clashed with members from a group called Parents for Choice in Education.
While those against the bill expressed concerns about undermining parental choice in education and women and girls losing their single-sex spaces, Panas told CBC that people with such concerns had to “catch up or shut up.”
By November 2016, a Techlifetoday profile referred to Panas as “one of Alberta’s most visible and vocal advocates for transgender rights” and provided an overview of the numerous “LGBTQ” causes he had been involved with:
Panas has helped a young transgender girl in a battle to use female washrooms in an Edmonton Catholic school. She [sic] has volunteered as an informal mentor for Camp Fyrefly, a leadership retreat for LGBTQ youth. As a director at large for the Edmonton Pride Festival Society, she [sic] has helped organize events that give the local LGBTQ community an opportunity to celebrate diversity with the city. Throughout the year, she’s [sic] a guest speaker at Edmonton post-secondary institutes and is a private consultant for organizations looking to create inclusive environments.
But Panas wasn’t finished tearing away single-sex spaces and rights from women and girls.
In May 2017, he provided testimony to the Standing Senate Committee on Legal and Constitutional Affairs in support of Bill C-16, which amended Canada’s Human Rights Act and the Criminal Code of Canada to include “gender identity and expression.”
It is because of this bill that Canada now houses men in women’s prisons, including incredibly dangerous and sexually violent offenders.
His testimony underscored how little Panas considers the rights and safety of women and girls. He openly mocked concerns that the bill would put women and girls at any sort of greater risk and made the extraordinarily bold claim that, “the person most likely to be assaulted, raped, or murdered in a public space is me, a transgender woman.”
In fact, it is men who claim to be women who are a greater risk to women than even the rest of the male population. Statistics from the United Kingdom, the United States, and Canada show that about half of male prisoners who claim a transgender identity are sex offenders. Their victims are mostly women and children and they are more likely to cause death or serious harm to their victims as well.
Panas, however, seems to only care about the violence of words—words like “I [heart] J.K. Rowling.”
In response to a billboard bearing this message partly put up by New Westminster nurse Amy Eileen Hamm, Panas tweeted that “these acts of violence must be called out and stopped.”
While Panas was not harmed by the words on the billboard, Hamm has been put through a two-year nightmare by her regulatory body as a result of two spurious complaints against her sparked by it. The mother of two young children is now fighting to keep her nursing license.
This is the man that Discovery House invited to speak for International Women’s Day.
Somehow, Panas has become the darling of Canadian lawmakers, policymakers, and even Canadian women’s charities who want to signal how progressive they are.
Part of the reason we are in this mess is because these organizations and institutions are listening to people like Panas on issues surrounding sex and gender identity. Critical voices—particularly critical women’s voices—have been almost entirely drowned out.
While there is a lot of money and power behind the transgender movement, as has been documented here on Gender Dissent, it also comes down to who is willing to speak and who can make others hear them.
To Panas’ credit, he has been very willing to speak and push his own message. One of the ways that we can start turning things around is to provide a loud and strong opposing narrative—one that focuses on the safety, privacy, and dignity of women and girls who Panas so easily dismisses in favour of his own interests.
In the profile for Techlifetoday, Panas, who is a long-distance runner, claimed that he had lost “any benefits of masculinity” from hormonal transition. “I’m slower, my muscle mass has changed, my endurance has changed,” he said. But that was okay because he was now living “authentically”—as if all it takes to be a woman is to be a slower and smaller man.
Panas is like a badly behaved tourist. He took a superficial visit to womanhood and remarked at how quaint, charming, and weak the inhabitants are. He then got right to work dismantling our very understanding of what it is to be a woman and erasing the reality of being female in law and policy. How rude.
We matter and our concerns deserve to be heard. Marni Panas is not our spokesman.
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