Organizations across Canada are driving home the point that transgender women must be considered when it comes to gender equality.
To coincide with International Women’s Day, the Canadian Centre for Gender & Sexual Diversity (CCGSD) has gathered signatures from hundreds of community organizations throughout the country to publicly affirm that gender equality can't be achieved without supporting, celebrating, and uplifting trans women. The Elementary Teachers’ Federation of Ontario, Oxfam Canada, Imagine Canada and the Canadian Anti-Hate Network are just some of the organizations who have signed on to show their support for the statement.
Jaime Sadgrove is the manager of communications and advocacy with CCGSD, and uses they/them pronouns. They say the marked escalation of transphobic rhetoric and attacks in recent years could give the impression that there isn’t support for welcoming trans women into women’s spaces.
“We’re really of the belief that’s not what most people think,” Sadgrove tells Yahoo Canada.
“If you look at opinion polling, most people are broadly supportive of gender affirming care, the needs of trans people and that trans women are women who have a right to be included in the feminist movement.”
Across the U.S., anti-trans bills are being introduced at a sweeping pace. These range from denying the right of trans children and teachers from being visible in schools, blocking state recognition through birth certificates, and the ban on widely recognized gender-affirming healthcare.
Trans women are women who have a right to be included in the feminist movement.
Sadgrove says while we don’t hear anti-trans rhetoric being used as much by Canadian politicians publicly, the media landscape showcases similar messaging, by questioning trans-affirming care as a way to undermine the idea that trans people deserve to have access to care that lets them live as the person they are.
They add that while anti-trans political thought might not appear to be as mainstream in Canada, there is a growing movement, particularly in schools.
Sadgrove says there's been a spike in the number of school board trustee candidates running on anti-trans platforms. In February, an incident involving a high school student from Renfrew, Ont., gained attention from some right-wing American media outlets. The Grade 11 student was suspended for anti-trans rhetoric and later was arrested and charged with trespassing, when he returned to school regardless.
“When you look at what’s in the mainstream media about trans people and their needs, it’s really sensationalized, there’s a lot of disinformation,” Sadgrove says.
While the federal government is working on a national action plan to combat hate, Sadgrove says the CCGSD hasn’t heard anything that suggests they’re considering the needs of LGBTQ+ communities.
“We’re making sure that trans people especially, because they’re baring the brunt of that hate, have a seat at that table and that plan includes resources specifically dedicated to fighting trans hate,” they say.