• Transcending Boundaries


    I’m Amanda Ryan, I’m a trans person. I call myself, “Proudly Trans Canadian.” I’m outreach committee chair for Gender Mosaic, which is Canada’s oldest and largest trans support group. I’ve been involved with the trans community for about 14 years, that’s from when I first came out. All the way to just stepping out tentatively to now being politically involved, and doing all sorts of lobbying with senators and members of parliament. Keeping myself quite busy that way.

    Dr. Cindi Love: I wanted to update you on where our association has been moving on issues. We’re pretty challenged in the United States right now, in that we have 13 states and major municipalities in each state, that are actually looking to roll back their human rights ordinances at the city level.

    Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick: This shows that the liberal leftist ideas of the Democrats, led by this mayor and by Hilary Clinton, are going to be rejected. Not just by Republicans, but by Democrats who came out against this. It’s just common sense and common decency. We don’t want men in women’s “Ladies Rooms”. It has nothing to do with equal rights. We already have equal rights guaranteed to us under our constitution.

    Legislation in Canada has progressed quite a bit from it’s original tries of getting through parliament. And, we’re getting there. The change of government recently, gives us a great opportunity now to pass our legislation and have gender identity recognized in Canadian law. Right now, 7 provinces already have that in their laws. And, one territory. So, we’re really on our way, we just need the national recognition as well. And, the government that is in place seems ready to do that.

    Global Toronto: I understand that one of the priorities for you was to have a cabinet that was “gender balanced”. Why was that so important to you?

    PM Justin Trudeau: Because, it’s 2015.

    Dr. Cindi Love: Some of our members, it’s a small number, but nevertheless an important number. They feel much more challenged about the idea of coming to Montreal around trans issues, than they do going to Houston or Columbus. Where we have the same challenges, but they FEEL different to them.

    Sure, mmm hmm, well the international border is just a tentative one right off the bat. And, it’s a non issue. I’ve crossed the border a number of times. I’ve always gone by land, other people I know who have gone by air, and nobody has any problems. It’s a non issue. I spend part of my time in male as well as female. I don’t, I’m not a full time trans person. However, that makes crossing the border a little more challenging because my passport has a male picture. It has an “M” on it and I cross looking just like my self now. And, I have no trouble whatsoever. We end up with really interesting conversations with the border guards, and I like to see what they react. I know that we’re not going to have troubles, so I tend to be a little more free spirited, I suppose, when I cross the border. Four of us pulled up to the border one day, I handed all four male passports out the window. And, the fella just kept looking at them, and he kept on looking at them, so I just said, “We’re going to a transgender conference”. He said, without looking at me, he said, “You had me confused.” Then he just looked at me and said, “Who’s this and who’s this and who’s this? Okay, great, and have a lot of fun.” And, away we went. The key is to be honest. If you don’t look like your passport, then simply say that you are going to a transgender conference. If your suitcase is full of female clothing and you look male, then just say, “Yes, that’s my clothing.” If you try to lie and say it’s your sisters or something like that, and I know someone who did that, you’re in for an interview and a whole bunch of other questions. But, if you say you’re going to a transgender conference, you’re done.

    Dr. Cindi Love: How does it feel right now inside the country in terms of climate? I know you have some big disappointments going on around your legislation, similar to what we’re experiencing in the United States. We’re really struggling. But, how does it feel for people?

    Right now, we’ve had a change of the federal government. It has gone from a conservative government to a liberal government. Right in the liberal platform, they stated that they are going to pass a trans rights legislation. And, that’s in the works right now. I’ve been in communication with the minister in charge of that and other people in the government. It’s very positive right now. That legislation will likely pass and some people are saying within two years. Which is a very very short period of time. This government will be in place for four years, it’s a majority government, so we’ve actually got that advantage.

    Dr. Cindi Love: You know, in the U.S., we have a very high level, statistically of violence against trans individuals, particularly trans individuals of color.

    MSNBC: I wonder as we think about Cece’s case, I keep thinking, had Cece not been a trans woman, had been a cis African American woman who was attacked in a racial attack and then ended up going to jail as a result of defending herself that the civil rights community around racial issues would likely have gotten involved in the way the trans community had gotten involved. In other words, I wonder if it was hard for the racialized civil rights community to see Cece as part of the community because she’s a trans woman instead of a cis woman.

    Lavern Cox: I think Cece case really is representative of so many of the harsh realities and the intersections of transphobia, transmisogyny, racism and classism that face so many trans women of color. Our homicide rate is the largest in the LGBT community. In 2012, 53%, over 53% of the homicides were trans women, 73% were people of color. 16% of transgender people have been incarcerated compared to 10% of the rest of the population. So there are systemic forces in our society that say that we are not who we say we are. That disavow our identities. That say that we are, the we’re only the genders that we were assigned at birth. And, say that we should not exist, that we should disappear. What is so powerful about Cece’s story is that night on June 5th, 2011, she said that I will not disappear. I will not be a statistic. I will not be one of those trans folks that goes down and who’s lives are treated as if they don’t matter.

    Montreal, Toronto, Ottawa are all great safe cities. I wouldn’t have any issues whatsoever. Just be careful. Just use your regular logic. Don’t go down dark alleys. That kind of sensibility and you’ll be fine.

    Dr. Cindi Love: My ultimate goal is every U.S. based campus is a safe and fully including place for trans identified students, faculty, staff, administrator.

    One college I know of, there’s issues with trying to get the gender markers changed and using the proper pronouns. It really comes down to an individual basis where the student will approach the teacher and for the most part, I’m hearing really positive things coming back. That the teaches are quite willing to use the pronouns and make the person comfortable in school. So that part is working very well. The administrative part is where you need to change computer programs, and that just becomes a bog down. It’ll happen.

    Dr. Cindi Love: Money. Just takes time.

    Come and have fun and really enjoy the city. ‘Cause it’s great… and Canada. Come and stay for awhile. We have a great country, our laws are changing so quickly, the attitude towards trans people, in particular, has changed immensely in the last number of years. Even before that, it wasn’t an issue. People are starting to say, “Oh trans, I’ve heard of that, tell me more.” And, I think thats a quantum leap in peoples attitudes. And, I’ll talk to people anytime about about trans issues.

    Dr. Cindi Love: Thank you so much for being so supportive of us as we bring our membership to convention and for really talking about how it feels and what the climate is like in Canada for trans identified persons. It’s really an honor to get to work with you. Thank you for everything you’ve done to move policy and legislation forward in Canada and the influence that has on the world.

    We’re optimistic that that’s coming and thank you very much for the opportunity too.

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