As B.C. prepares to mark Transgender Day of Visibility on Friday (March 31), an advocate says visibility is a necessary but meaningful policy work is integral for genuine inclusion.
Alex DeForge, social impact coordinator of the Vancouver-based queer and trans resource centre QMUNITY, said increasing visibility is not the end goal but one way to get there.
“I want politicians to see me and then talk to me about what kinds of policies and funding structures would make for a more equitable society,” they told Black Press Media outside the provincial legislature on Thursday.
“I want CEOs and executive directors to see me and then to talk to trans people about what would make their workplace more inclusive. I want doctors and nurses to see me and to think about what would make a more inclusive medical practice.”
DeForge issued these appeals among others during the raising of the transgender flag. Roughly 150 people attended, including Aaron Devore, Chair in Transgender at the University of Victoria, as well Parliamentary Secretary for Gender Equity Kelli Paddon and Deputy Speaker Spencer Chandra Herbert.
De Forge said Transgender Day of Visibility is the start of a conversation about the injustices that transgender people face and how to change perspective and systems that refuse to let them thrive.
“Today and every day I want you to see me and to believe that my gender identity is real.”
Thursday’s ceremony unfolded against the backdrop of laws being adopted around the world – including in the U.S. and parts of Africa – seeking to reduce the visibility of the transgender community.
Right-wing commentators across the border, where many Republican-controlled states have led the way in restricting the rights of transgender people, and have brought this week’s shooting at a Nashville Christian school into their rhetoric.
Without directly referring to that incident, Devor touched on the current climate in the United States as way to draw out differences.
“There are tremendous, horrific attacks taking place on the rights of transgender people in the United States,” Devor said. “But we’re in Canada. It’s not like that in Canada. We’re not a perfect country. We will never be a perfect country…but it’s better here. We have laws. We are protected.”
During her opening remarks, Paddon said that efforts continue to erase the existence of transgender people and block their participation in society. It is the basis for transphobic discrimination and too often violence, she added.
“This makes today all the more important.”
The origins of Transgender Day of Visibility date back to 2009.
Of the nearly 30.5 million people in Canada aged 15 and older, roughly 100,000 people are transgender, according to the latest Statistics Canada census.
Canada is the first G7 country to collect and publish data on gender diversity on national census. A provincial bill introduced this legislative session makes it possible for people aged 12 and up to change the sex marker on their birth certificate without approval from a physician or psychologist.
Another change allows people to ask for a birth certificate without a designation.
The bill passed unanimously Tuesday (March 28) and now awaits royal assent.