CCGSD is calling on all of our supporters to contact their provincial and municipal representatives and demand they support their trans constituents by signing our 2023 Pledge of Pride.
I, [elected official], pledge to:
1. Publicly and unequivocally identify, name, and denounce anti-trans hate, speech and violence.
2. Allow and affirm 2SLGBTQIA+ inclusion and celebration within my jurisdiction whether it takes place in the form of a flag, event, or other such expression.
3. Support trans-inclusive policies that materially improve living conditions for my constituents. (eg. increased funding for 2SLGBTQI+ communities)
4. Stand up against anti-trans policies like the Norwich County Flag Ban, or New Brunswick’s amendments to Policy 713 that negatively impact my constituents.
Reflecting on the 2022-2023 School Year
As the 2022-2023 school year approaches its end, staff at the Canadian Centre for Gender and Sexual Diversity are reflecting on the stark increase in anti-trans violence impacting youth across the country. Whether at their school, local library or their city council, trans youth have been targeted relentlessly by transphobic and fascist rhetoric that aims to extinguish them from public spaces.
In Ontario, the hostility of public space for trans youth has greatly increased. In the fall of 2022 alone, anti-2SLGBTQIA+ demonstrations targeted a number of cities including: Peterborough, Sarnia, Renfrew, Brockville, Hamilton, Burlington, and Oakville. Many of these examples took place at Drag events however in Renfrew and Oakville, the targets were entire schools. In Oakville specifically, the violence escalated to multiple bomb threats over the course of weeks.
Unfortunately, as 2023 has unfolded, the growing fascist movement has become more united around anti-2SLGBTQIA+ rhetoric. According to our research, there have been more targeted assaults on Drag Story Time Hours, trans-inclusive school policies, and Pride flags across the country in the first five months of 2023 than in the entire two previous years combined. In April, a York Catholic School Board meeting was disrupted by homophobes and transphobes in opposition to the raising of Pride flags, leading to the Trustees voting down a motion to fly the Pride flag in May. Moreover, Norwich Township Council has passed John Scholten’s violent motion to ban Pride flags from township property.
These incidents are not limited to Ontario. Since the start of the pandemic, fascism has been rising steadily across the globe. Anti-LGBT violence and transphobic movements have become increasingly prevalent. The far-right entered countless municipal election races across the country this past fall. Alberta saw assaults on a Drag Story Time in Grande Prairie, multiple events in Calgary and a now elected UPC Lacombe-Ponoka member, Jennifer Johnson, compared trans children to feces. In Manitoba, there are coordinated efforts across seven municipalities to defund libraries attempting to force them to remove books with 2SLGBTQIA+ content. Additionally, youth living on both the coasts, from N.S to P.E.I, and west coasts have been dealing with similar forms of violence. In New Brunswick, this has occurred via revisions to Policy 713 which, as CCGSD has noted, greatly infringes on the safety and autonomy of trans students province-wide.
As this hostility grows in public spaces, our staff has noted a stark increase in transphobic, islamophobic and white supremacist language and behavior during our delivery of workshops on Comprehensive Sexual Education and Intersectionality and Diversity. Our work is essential in continuing to push for educational spaces that are trans-inclusive, anti-racist, and accessible to all. This pushback from the far-right displays a key facet of their political organizing; using racism and misogyny as tools to consolidate white power. Regardless of whether the tool is ableism (i.e. anti-mask and anti-vax rhetoric), racism, or transphobia the goal is always the same— mobilize the cultural majority to dehumanize and eradicate people who are a “threat” to Canada’s white, non-disabled, and cis-hetero norms.
From Coquitlam to Saskatoon to Montreal to Moncton, trans people have been under constant attack for simply being included in literacy programs, athletics, and artistic pursuits. As this violence becomes more commonplace, Canada’s state-based “solutions,” such as the federal 2SLGBTQI+ Action Plan, continues turning up toothless in the face of these fascist displays of intimidation. Now more than ever, it is up to us to keep one another safe. And communities across the country have been doing just that. 2SLGBTQIA+ people and their allies have been showing up in droves to counter the transphobia and fascism threatening public spaces.
We need our municipalities and provinces to support 2SLGBTQIA+ communities on the ground; as they are the ones standing up and fighting back against transphobic rhetoric. Our leaders must pass policy that shows us we matter by materially supporting 2SLGBTQIA+ communities’ health, housing, education, and employment— life-affirming resources. We do not need carceral responses such as more money going towards public or private institutions of policing or the introduction of more bylaws as they will eventually target and impact the autonomy of 2SLGBTQIA+ community members. Our representatives must affirm their commitment to supporting 2SLGBTQIA+ residents now. With municipalities like the City of Ottawa already taking similar action, it is clear that more can be done by our local and provincial bodies of government.