Photo by Razan Samara
By: Drew Simpson
From Nov. 12 to 19, the trans and LGBTQA+ community came together to observe Trans Awareness Week. While marginalized groups were reflecting on the country’s history of transphobic violence, the Ontario Progressive Conservative Party passed a resolution to open debate whether gender identity theory should be stripped from curriculum in Ontario schools.
The Nov. 17 resolution seeks to characterize gender identity theory as a “controversial, unscientific, liberal ideology.”
While Ford has since pledged to not proceed with the motion, it has significant implications at McMaster. The resolution has sparked concerns from student groups on campus and in Hamilton.
According to Daniel Blum from Speqtrum Hamilton, a youth-led community program for queer and trans youth in Hamilton, the non-binding resolution has dangerous consequences for the trans community.
“Political sentiment can be every bit of dangerous as a piece of legislation because it can embolden people who have similar sentiments to act. And it can push for further legislation,” says Blum.
“My concern is that people are going to stop fighting because of that, and that we have to keep fighting. Especially cis people and allies out there that might think ‘oh Ford put out a statement, we are okay now.’ We are not okay. Our rights are always still in jeopardy. They can always still be rolled back,” said Kaiden Penney, who is involved with both Speqtrum and the McMaster Students Union Pride Community Centre in an executive role.
Penny explains that the resolution may put trans rights in jeopardy.
On the evening of Nov. 17, the MSU’s PCC released a statement condemning the resolution.
“The pride community centre is vehemently opposed to this resolution and vows to stand with our communities as we mobilize against actions which seek to delegitimize our identities and revoke our rights and protections,” reads part of the statement.
In addition, the PCC called the resolution transphobic and colonialist. The group’s Facebook statement was shared by the MSU’s Women and Gender Equity Network, which has yet to create their own written response.
The Hamilton Trans Health Coalition has also denounced the resolution.
“As healthcare providers and supporters of the Hamilton trans health coalition, we are working to close gaps in care and know that we need leadership from government, not additional barriers. We wholeheartedly condemn this resolution which is meant to delegitimize transgender people,” reads part of a statement on the HTHC’s website.
The Hamilton Academy of Medicine stipulates that the resolution’s characterization of gender identity is scientifically inaccurate.
“Calling it a theory erases the fact that everyone in the entire world has a gender identity. It is not a theory for cis theory people so it is not a theory for trans people either,” said Blum.
Blum also notes that there are resources available for LGBTQA+ students. For instance, both MSU PCC and WGEN provide peer support, either one-on-one, in groups or in drop-in safe spaces. Speqtrum also offers support groups and also promotes the Transgender Suicide Hotline, which can be reached at 1-877-330-6366.