Rally Against Transphobia

May 10, 2017

On Sunday, May 7, 2017, QMUNITY’s executive director, CJ Rowe, spoke out against transphobia alongside other community members at Emery Barnes Park. Here is CJ’s speech from the event:

While the transphobic flyers that hit FalseCreek a week and a half ago explicitly targeted Morgane, all of us whose identities fall under the trans spectrum were yet again the focus of public scrutiny and explicit hate. This kind of hate is not new to most of us. It creeps into our lives in the most insidious and microscopic of ways. Through systems that are not designed to account for our existence (registration forms, driver’s licenses, passports, health care) and in conversations with family, friends, colleagues (who refuse to use our chosen names and pronouns).

With the youth that access QMUNITY’s Youth Program, we see the day-to-day impacts of transphobia.

An inexcusable number of youth that access our Youth Program have survived harassment, are unemployed, and are homeless.

Fear and survival strategies are things that are talked about every day.

What if the youth had the opportunity to talk about something different? Like envisioning their futures, what it’s like to walk down the street without worry, without harassment?

What I worry about is the rise of the right wing rhetoric that is taking over public space: like in comments on newspaper articles, in the recent transphobic flyers and posters that have been circulated in communities, and in opposition to proposed changes to our human rights law (like Bill C-16 which would see the inclusion of gender identity and expression under Canada’s Human Rights Act).

These groups are very organized and are becoming more and more effective in their rhetoric. Freedom of speech is not about taking another person’s freedom away from them.

I ask you, how are we (those of us who are not them) going to organize against this? Our rights have not been won and those rights we do have feel tenuous at best.

Bringing it back to the youth who access QMUNITY’s Youth Program: I would like to see us, one day,  have a  drop-in where these youth aren’t talking about how to survive.

Let’s help make that happen for them.