Irshadgul News report,
For the trans community, Alex Ash says the year has been bookended by two important dates.
On March 31, the community celebrates Trans Day of Visibility – the right to exist, to be joyful and safe. In November, however, there is Trans Day of Remembrance.
“We mourn the lives of our trans brothers and sisters, who we’ve lost over the course of a year because there’s still too much violence in our community,” said Ashe, board chair of the non-profit Chroma New Brunswick in St. John’s. ” ,
A wave of anti-trans legislation is making headlines in the United States, including a ban on gender-affirming care and a ban on drag shows.
Ash said that the trans youth she works with are scared, especially of not being able to be themselves.
“It is an unsafe time to be trans and gender non-conforming right now,” she said.
Ashe said there are some key ways to support people who are suffering, not only because of anti-trans legislation south of the border, but also because of the growing hate here in Canada.
For Ash, it all comes down to education.
They know from being an educator in the trans community that access to support and gender-affirming care can be life-saving.
Transgender youth are more likely than their peers to think about or attempt suicide, according to a recent study in the Canadian Medical Association Journal.
She said it is easy for people who don’t know much about the trans community to fall prey to misinformation.
Ash said, “If you’re reading a lot of articles about how we’re all bad and sad and pathetic, look for the other side. Be critical of the information you take in.”
Croma offers workshops about becoming an NB ally and a monthly workshop called Beyond Acceptance, where parents and family members can ask questions about the queer community.
It’s also important to really get to know trans people.
Link Langille-Watkins, a transgender person and digital artist in Fredericton, said that’s the least individuals can do to show respect for members of the trans community.
“Remember that when people are talking about things online that are transphobic, against trans people, you are talking about different people,” he said. “It’s not just some concept, it’s real people.”
A petition urging Canada to grant asylum to LGBTQ individuals from the US has over 145,000 signatures.
It was initiated by Ontario-based activist Kate Gleason and will be brought to the House of Commons in May.
Langille-Watkins grew up in rural New Brunswick in the 1990s and knows what it’s like to not have access to the kind of support being banned in the US. He said he “absolutely” supports the movement.
“It is best to go where they are safe,” he said.
Fundraising for health care is equally important, because arriving safely in Canada is one thing, accessing resources is something else entirely, and the hidden costs associated with transitioning or gender-affirming care can be high.
In New Brunswick, Langille-Watkins said there is only one surgeon who performs top surgery, and while that is covered by Medicare, additional procedures such as liposuction, which can help remove some of the excess tissue around the breasts , are not. They also said that some general practitioners lack training in how to provide gender-affirming care.
Ashe said there is still a lot of work to do in Canada to improve trans rights.
People who fled the US should research where they are going to live in Canada because they may not have access to health care that was banned in their home country.
Ashe also pointed to coverage coming from Prince Edward Island about the transgender community, which was forced to reschedule an event due to increased anti-trans sentiment. In New Brunswick, Ashe points to protests at Drag Story Time events in both St. John’s and Moncton.
“I think at times Canadians [say] Oh, it won’t be here,” said Ash. “But it already is. Maybe not in law, but in action.”
So creating and protecting safe spaces for trans and gender-diverse youth is also something people in Canada can do to support those targeted by hate, Ash said.
And for adults in the trans and gender-diverse community, showing youth that they can have happy and fulfilling lives is important. One strength Ash said the community has right now through all of this is its refusal to go back into hiding.
“Maybe because there’s more visibility and more support, people are like, ‘I’ve got a taste for living authentically, and I don’t want to be myself. Even though it’s hard, there’s a long way to go. ” , I don’t want to go back.'”