When the Government of Alberta released their set of guidelines to support school boards in developing LGBTQ-inclusive policies, I was hopeful, then immediately disgusted by the public response. This is something I'd been waiting for, something that I had desperately needed growing up, and it is undoubtedly of critical importance to anyone who loves a trans person.
In no way would I suggest that the struggle transgender people face isn't real. But let's face it. She was living as a man, not a woman, until six months ago. A woman in hiding as a man, perhaps, but as far as the universe is concerned, she was a he, and treated with all the benefits that come along with being a rich white man for the better part of 65 years.
How can Muslim LGBT lead the dialogue if a majority amongst them segregate their lives from conservative spaces? The importance of dialogue within conservative Muslim communities cannot be over-emphasized. Such a dialogue will have to be part of a much-needed internal critique, for outside solutions may be rejected as anti-Muslim bigotry.
Recently, a parochial vicar in Edmonton added to the debate on an issue as trivial as the use of washroom facilities by a transgender student in an elementary Catholic school. In his seven-point missive, he seemed to justify the use of the words "mental illness" and "disorder" used by the Catholic authorities for transgender persons -- the parochial vicar can only speak for himself.
Both conservative Muslims and Catholics talk of mercy and compassion, but it seems they draw the limits at LGBT persons. While they have been able to get past difficult texts on slavery and concubinage, they have not been as successful on texts that are used to repress sexual minorities. Given the Prophet's teaching of "doing no harm and accepting no harm," it is clear that any Muslim position in Canada should not be based on the fear-mongering of transphobic "Muslim" and "Christian" groups. Indeed, justifying one's transphobia under the guise of religious freedom is unconscionable.
Farrah Marfatia, principal of the Maingate Islamic Academy in Mississauga, has written a guide, "How to talk to your Muslim child about topics in the Ontario Ministry of Education's Health Education Curriculum, 2015." She believes that from her "Islamic" perspective the curriculum is not age appropriate and is concerned about "how" she would teach it to her own children.