Here’s how you can support Ontario’s trans community

Community activists, politicians speak out in light of PC’s anti-trans resolution

Graham Robertson, Editor

On Saturday, November 17th, the Ontario Progressive Conservative (PC) party voted to pass a resolution that would deny recognizing gender identity theory, during a three-day convention in Toronto.

PC Member of Provincial Parliament (MPP) Tanya Granic Allen proposed the resolution, which reads, “Be it resolved that an Ontario PC Party recognizes “gender identity theory” for what it is, namely, a highly controversial, unscientific “liberal ideology”; and, as such, that an Ontario PC Government will remove the teaching and promotion of “gender identity theory” from Ontario schools and its curriculum.”

The motion follows the PC’s decision to rescind the updated 2015 sexual education curriculum introduced under the former Liberal government, and reinstate the curriculum from 1998, which excludes topics such as gender identity and online safety.

The community speaks out

Since the passing of this vote, numerous members of the transgender community have spoken out to condemn the PC’s decision, advocating for policies that protect the rights and safety of trans and gender diverse peoples.

Lyra Evans, an Ottawa-based community organizer and the first openly trans trustee for the Ottawa-Carleton District School Board shared on Twitter, “The (PC party) is trying to stifle the success of a marginalized community that fought and succeeded to be heard, understood, and validated by society. People have the right to self-identification. Period.”

Other members of the community shared their concerns that this decision will make the province more dangerous for trans people in the coming months.

Prominent members of the New Democratic Party (NDP) at various levels condemned the decision as well. Provincial NDP leader Andrea Horwath tweeted, “I’m appalled that the Ford Conservatives would endorse a resolution that attacks trans people and their rights. #TransRightsAreHumanRights in Ontario, and the New Democrats stand with LGBTQ people against this dangerous position that drags our province backwards.”

Federal NDP leader Jagmeet Singh also spoke against the resolution and its impact on the trans and gender diverse community, sharing his support for them during this time.

The facts

According to a study by the Canadian Association of Mental Health (CAMH), 77 per cent of trans respondents have seriously considered suicide, while 45 per cent have attempted suicide. These statistics are even higher for trans youth, and these are just the statistics that are are reported.

CAMH reports that half of trans people in Ontario live on less than $15,000 a year, and trans people across North America face heightened discrimination while accessing housing, employment, and social services. These statistics are further mitigated by factors such as race, disability, and socioeconomic status.

What can we do?

In light of the Ford government’s recent decision, Ottawa-based trans activist and educator Fae Johnstone shared various ways that allies can support the trans community.

Show up to your local Transgender Day of Remembrance. A Transgender Day of Remembrance will be taking place in Ottawa on Tuesday, November 20th a 6 p.m. at the Canadian Tribute to Human Rights on Elgin St. This is an open event to trans people and allies to honour the lives lost to transphobia, and highlight the ways that it that pervades our communities today.

Allies in the capital can also donate to organizations such as Kind Space, an LGBTQ community centre, Ten Oaks Project, an overnight camp for LGBTQ youth, and Foundations and Pathways, a peer support group for trans and gender diverse people.

Donations can also be made to SAEFTY, Ottawa’s first support group run by and for trans youth. A link to donate can be found on their website.

Evans shared on Twitter other ways to protest the PC’s decision, including to pressure PC MPPs to reinstate the 2015 sex ed curriculum, and to run for office in upcoming elections. Lawyer Naomi Sayers has prepared a template and guide for writing letters to PC MPPs.

Johnstone further shared the need to bring trans educators into schools and workplaces, and other community organizations. 

Lastly, reach out to trans and gender diverse members of your community to see how you can personally support them during this time. For those requiring support, you can reach out to the Trans Lifeline, Canada’s first transgender suicide hotline, at 1-877-330-6366. The LGBT Youth Line is also open Sunday to Friday from 4:00 to 9:30 p.m at 1-800-268-9688.

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