Trans Bodies Trans Selves – Montreal Forum

7 11 2011

Hi readers! If any of you are in Montreal, you should come to this event that I’m co-organising! We’ve already gotten some awesome press about the event here. The event is tied to the Trans Bodies Trans Selves resource guide project so if you’re not in Montreal, you can still check out the site to see if they are having an event in your area.  No matter where you are, there is a survey you can fill out online if you want your voice to be heard for this project!





Tr@nz – January 2011 issue

22 02 2011

The latest issue of Tr@nz is out! Tr@nz is a bilingual (French and English) online magazine about local (Montreal/Quebec/Canada) and international issues affecting trans folks. Scroll down after following the link to download the PDF file for the latest issue. You can also subscribe to the magazine and get an email from Maxime every time a new issue comes out.

 





We need to keep fighting! Bill C-389

15 02 2011

I strongly urge all readers who are residents of Canada to check out this link.

It contains a sample letter and an easy “copy-pastable” list of Canadian senators who will soon be deciding the fate of Bill C-389. If you didn’t already know, this bill would ensure rights for trans people in Canada by adding gender identity and gender expression to the list of prohibited grounds for discrimination in the Canadian charter of human rights. (More on this issue here.) You are free to write your own letter of course but if time is short and words fail you, 2 minutes of your time is all it takes to copy and paste this sample letter and list of senators into your email and click send.

Right now, the people who have the government’s ears are the extreme right-wing nuts who think that all trans people are pedophiles out to get into the showers of little girls. So if we don’t speak up “en masse,” this bill will die and who knows if trans people will have official rights in Canada any time in the next 50 years.

Thanks in advance for any little thing you can do to help!





Bill C-389 passes third reading in Canada’s House of Commons

9 02 2011

Bill C-389, a private member’s bill by NDP MP Bill Siksay, has just passed third reading in Canada’s House of Commons. The vote was 143 in favor and 135 against. This is very exciting news as the only step left for this bill is to be approved by the senate. For the people who have been working hard to get this bill passed, including Bill Siksay, Matt McLauchlin and I’m sure many others, this has been a stressful time since the current leadership is aiming for spring elections. According to my limited understanding, if the bill does not go through the whole process before the next election, it dies. Then we would have to start all over again.

If it does go through, then trans people of all flavours of trans should be protected by law in Canada. Will this fix everything? Probably not. Same sex marriage (not gay marriage, since being married to a person of the same sex would not make a bi person gay, thank you very much) has been legal in Canada for years now and yet there is still homophobia. So it would stand to reason that making discrimination against people based on gender identity and gender expression illegal would not eliminate transphobia.

And even if transphobia gradually declines over time, we have to remember that trans people of colour, First Nations trans people (some of whom might identify as Two-Spirit individuals,) trans people with disabilities, trans people from lower socio-economic backgrounds, trans people without status, trans people with an intersex experience,  trans sex workers and elderly trans people will still be targets of marginalisation and discrimination. If we truly want equal access to dignity and well-being for all trans people, we need to keep in mind that we have to work against ALL forms of oppression.

Bill C-389 is a step in the right direction for sure but it is not the end of the struggle against oppression. It is certainly worth celebrating its progress, however, and worth applauding the efforts of the people who worked hard to get this bill through. My warmest thanks goes out to them as well as a pledge to continue to work against oppression at the sides of all those who want to help shape a society that is anti-oppression.





Elias takes the DEC to court – Please help!

24 01 2011

From my friend Elias:

Hi friends, community members and allies,

As some of you already know, I’ve been in a battle with the Registrar of Civil Status of Quebec over my legal sex designation for the past few months. There are many serious problems with this department, including arbitrary/inconsistent decisions due to bureaucrats interpreting articles 71 and 58 of the Quebec Civil Code however they want – therefore getting to decide what consists an appropriate sex change for trans men, getting to decide whether to add a first name to a birth certificate instead of granting an actual change of name to trans people, general ignorance about trans issues and surgeries, unwillingness to dialogue with the community and medical professionals, hostile attitudes towards trans people from some bureaucrats, long wait times, barriers for non-citizens, and more. It’s a serious nightmare.

I have undergone a bilateral mastectomy, am on hormones and have paperwork attesting that I meet the criteria for GID – I submitted all of that info to the department. I was initially refused a sex change on the grounds of not having undergone phalloplasty. I contested this in writing because it has already been established that they cannot ask it as a prerequisite. They then revised their decision to state that I could not be granted a sex change because I had not undergone a total hysterectomy – as I type this, it is mandatory for trans people to be surgically sterile to be granted a change of sex in Quebec.

I am now going to court to challenge the constitutionality of the Civil Code article that dictates what conditions must be met to access a change of sex. Coercing trans people into getting surgeries that they might not want (or cannot get) is a gross violation of our human rights, and and I have witnessed the devastating consequences that having mismatched paperwork can have for some trans people. It is necessary that compulsory sterilization be abolished in order to comply with the Canada and Quebec Charters and to insure that trans people are granted their full citizenship. This is an unprecedented opportunity for Quebec to amend it’s Civil Code to ensure that it doesn’t contradict itself by protecting against unwanted medical treatment while simultaneously enforcing compulsory surgical treatment against a segment of the population.

Despite the fact that my lawyer is doing this at a reduced rate, significant costs are being incurred. I am willing to put as much of my own money into this while it is ongoing, but my monetary resources are limited – it wouldn’t be possible for me to do this without some financial help. In addition to throwing a few fundraisers over the next year, I have set up a donation page at http://tiny.cc/eliasdeanfund in order to cover fees incurred on my behalf during litigation.  This case is important for our community and could change the grounds of legal sex recognition in Quebec – if you can afford to contribute, please consider doing so. I make a living as an artist, and donations of 25$ or more will get you an original drawing or a print of your choice.

The outpour of love and support I’ve been receiving has exceeded my wildest expectations – I wouldn’t have the strength to do this without you and I want to express my deepest gratitude to all those who have reached out to me. A website (www.eliasdeanchallenge.com) will be up shortly to provide updates about the case for those who are interested.

In love and solidarity,

Elias





Kissed by an Angel!

6 01 2011

Buck Angel that is! Yes, like many front row audience members at one of his shows, I was kissed by Buck Angel at Toronto Pride 2010 when he took one of his trips offstage in between pieces of clothes coming off. And yes, it was an open mouth kiss! And boy was the show hot!

Aside from that, before his show, he gave a talk on some of the awareness raising he does with regard to trans health. He also did a Q&A with the audience. It was really great to see how down to earth and unpretentious he is!





Trans Action in Montreal – June 10, 2010

5 01 2011

An interesting political action took place in Montreal last year, initiated by a young group called PolitiQ. I wish I could’ve been more involved in it because this is an issue I’d been wanting to take action on for years. Indeed, this was more important to me than the fight to get trans surgeries covered by the government. But the timing was all wrong for me as I was in the final stages of preparing for fieldwork. I did what I could to help but it wasn’t nearly as much as I wanted to do. Nevertheless, I’m very happy with how things turned out.

The action was directed at Quebec’s Directeur de l’état civil (DEC), the organisation in charge of birth, marriage and death certificates as well as change of name and change of sex marker certificates. Although they have improved the process somewhat for trans people in the last few years, namely by allowing trans people to obtain their change of name faster than the typical route requiring use of the chosen name for 5 years, many of us take issue with their criteria for a change of sex marker. Not only is the section on dealing with the topic hidden in the change of name section, the description of the requirements is ambiguous:

Any person who has successfully undergone medical treatments and surgical operations involving a structural modification of sexual organs intended to change his or her sexual characteristics may obtain a change of designation of sex his or her act of birth and, if necessary, a change of given names.

Since we know that most bureaucrats (apologies to any bureaucrats reading this who actually have a clue, but you have to admit that most do not) are completely out of touch with reality, it was doubtful in many of our minds that this institution actually had a clear idea of the wide variety of “surgical operations” available to trans people. So upon reading this, the reaction that I and many trans folk in Quebec have is: “OK…so what, concretely, do I need? A hysto, top surgery, a meta or a phallo (for FTMs)? A vaginoplasty and breast construction (for MTFs)?”

Many, but not all trans people, feel that medical procedures should’t even be a requirement. I am of this school. Not everyone wants to go through medical transition in order to socially transition. This should be an option. However, by the state’s current requirements, we are required to undergo sterilization to be able to legally change our sex designation – clearly a human rights violation.

PolitiQ’s action consisted of a manifesto decrying the problems with the current requirements for both name and sex designation changes for trans people. We collected signatures of support from many LGBT groups, women’s groups, student groups, activists, professionals working with trans people and university professors.  The manifesto was sent to the DEC on June 17th, 2010 along with a call for a meeting to discuss ways in which to improve their criteria.

On that day, we also held a peaceful protest in front of the DEC’s Montreal office. From what I heard, this was the first specifically Trans action to take place in Montreal. I was very proud to be a part of it! Spirits were high as people begun to gather – on time! This was notable as Montreal Time tends to mean that people start thinking about getting dressed at the time an event is supposed to start! But within the first half hour after the announced assembly time, there were already about 100 people if I recall correctly (anyone reading this who has more specific numbers, please feel free to correct me.) And by the time the demo actually started, I think there were 200 people. We sang, we danced, we handed out flyers to passers-by. And then there were speeches. I was one of the people asked to speak and I felt very privileged to do so. At the end, we had a “die-in.” The police officers nearby were actually very helpful in stopping traffic so that we could hold it, which was surprising since this was an unregistered demo.

There is a video with excerpts from the demo, including bits of all the speeches, here.

Kudos to all who worked hard to make this happen! Let’s hope that it is fruitful in the long run. As it stands, I haven’t heard whether the DEC has accepted to meet with community representatives.