Trans Mending Versus Transphobic Amendments:

Trans Mending Versus Transphobic Amendments: My Reflections on What’s Happening to Bill C-279

When I read about the transphobic amendment to Bill-C279, the rage inside me swelled until I wanted to weep. It was devastating to think that people like me didn’t deserve the kind of protection other people have on a national level, according to Senator Don Plett. I wanted to show him how it felt by barring him from locker rooms and public bathrooms. I wanted to curl up in a ball, wounded by how Canadian human rights has failed.

Instead, I choose to be uplifted by the work of agencies such as Qmunity and their story of the trans youth they reach. I choose to be inspired by trans people-led projects like Action Santé Travesti(e)s et Transsexuel(le)s du Québec (ASTT(e)Q), aka Québec Trans Health Action, who have been supporting trans people since 1998. I choose to be galvanized by the work of the Native Youth Sexual Health Network(NYSHN), Families of Sisters in Spirit (FSIS), and No More Silence (NMS) concerning ongoing violence against Indigenous women, girls, Two Spirit, and lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, transsexual, queer, questioning, intersex, and asexual (LGBTTQQIA) people with community-based responses.

Yes, it is so absolutely important to keep pushing for Canadian human rights that protects trans people, but I am not about waiting around or putting all my energies into this single direction. My work with Jer’s Vision has been about reaching out to trans youth and adults from coast to coast to coast, whether it’s at our sexual health forums, our regional diversity conferences, or if I have to travel to their city myself and do a presentation in front of their whole school. In the vein of the work of the folks’ above, I’d like to reiterate many of their points with my own, to remind myself and others who care about this work that transmisogyny and transphobia are community problems, and we need to mend these problems with community-based responses:

  1. Understand the demographics of the trans community. In Ontario, those findings can be summarized by the Trans PULSE Project.
  2. Centre the leadership of trans women, gender nonbinary people, and Two Spirit trans people. Based on the Trans PULSE Project, these are the demographics which are discriminated against the most and face many barriers to access.
  3. Support and uplift each other. Because the trans community is so varied and diverse, but still a small part of the population with unequal rights on an institutional level, we should recognize our differences and listen to what’s going on with each other. That could also be about teaching each other things like the difference between transmisogyny and transphobia; about the history of colonialism and nonbinary gender people; about the nuances and importance of age, race, disability, class, type of work, etc.
  4. Support local work. Whether it’s a local support group, or that tireless social worker that has been collaborating with your school board to initiate a trans inclusion policy, these are all front-line work that’s part of the bigger piece of justice for trans people. This also goes for cisgender/non-trans allies– support our work on a local level and centre us in everything you do when it comes to trans justice. Support trans people speaking for themselves and telling our story.

These are just small steps, but they’re a start. We can continue to add to this momentum of change, and mend the wounds this federal amendment will bring. Then maybe, just maybe, people like Senator Don Plett will be caught up in the wave, until the lives, protection, and brilliance of trans people are no longer a question that has to be amended or voted on inside closed doors by non-trans people.

Lukayo Estrella
Team Leader