I recently read a heart-wrenching essay in The Globe and Mail's Facts and Arguments section. It's about a woman named Sally who is going through a difficult emotional time and questioning the universe while having a spa day. Her turmoil was palpable, her angst was raw, and her self-doubt was heart-wrenching.
I am a non-binary trans person. I know that many people do not yet understand what this means. Many people refuse to acknowledge my existence. Being seen as I am by people is a remarkable feeling, and my grandmother gave this gift to me in the most unexpected moment. My grandmother spent her minute of clarity, while suffering in a state of almost perpetual dementia and physical exhaustion, to give me a beautiful gift of cross-generational respect as a trans person. To see me as I am.
Trans people are diverse, but we are not all the same. Non-binary trans people have been largely excluded from the discussion about trans people, and this erasure delegitimizes our identity. What troubles me is that some people are acting out dangerous forms of transphobia to erase non-binary trans people.
Since Black Lives Matter Toronto's sit-in during Pride 2016, many of you have shown woeful levels of misunderstanding of where our community as a whole sits with the police. I've heard several of you say that the police don't pose a threat to LGBT people, because we've made "progress." "The bathhouse raids were 35 years ago. Everything is fine now between LGBT people and the police!" is how the argument goes, as if conflict between police and LGBT people is a thing of the past. What you mean to say is that your battle for your rights (which did not include an agenda for LGBT people of colour) was already hard fought decades ago.
The IOC has informally encouraged sex-testing since the 1936 Olympics, and formally since the 1968 Games. From "visual exams" inspecting the genitals of female athletes to the testosterone-seeking sex tests of today, the IOC has a horrific history of misunderstanding and misusing science to simultaneously hurt women. Women who do not fit their policy can either undergo medical intervention to force their biology into that shoebox, or quit. Several young healthy women underwent a series of invasive procedures, including clitoral amputation, to remain in competitive sport. We need to let that sink in for a minute.
The International Olympic Committee has decided that one single determining factor, testosterone, is the latest and greatest marker for determining sex, even though research has shown there is no one single element than can be used to pigeonhole the world into two neat biological categories: male/female. This binary is an easy fiction that obscures the messier and more complicated details of real life.
Khawaja Siras is a cultural identity in that may be loosely translated as trans persons. In the aftermath of recent horrific violence faced by the khawaja siras in Pakistan, a group of Sunni clerics issued a (legal opinion) sanctioning their rights including that of marriage. However, by skirting dialogue with the khawaja siras community, the clerics may have failed to maximize their potential.
"Most, if not all, mainstream feminism only represents a certain kind of person. Of course, we're talking about white, middle class, able-bodied, cisgender women." Too often, says Kai, marginalized communities such as trans folks aren't given a platform to talk about the issues, like sexual violence, that impact them.
You might know that the number one word associated with being transgender is "dysphoria," a vague medicalized word used ascribed to transgender people to describe how mirrors and people you thought were your friends now make you cry. But another common word I've heard transgender people use to describe themselves is "monster." I knew to expect all that pain before I told a single person. But what nobody had prepared me for was the joy.
The gender identity and expression bill is long overdue, with similar bills having already been introduced seven times before. But what makes this a cause for celebration is that for the first time, it's the government who is tabling the bill. Unlike previous private members' bills, this one is much more likely to pass. This bill would go a long way toward equal protections for all trans people across Canada, and could be a promising example to follow for provinces and territories who haven't yet adopted similar protections.
Today in Alberta there is a debate about parental rights v. the rights of LGBTQ kids. It centres around the obligation of a school teacher to whom a student discloses their orientation or gender identity to tell that student's parents. I was fortunate that my parents were supportive and understanding. Not all kids are so fortunate.