Credit: Bradley Turcotte
As Ottawa’s trans community commemorates the Trans Day of Remembrance, Gender Mosaic’s second vice-president, Amanda Ryan, says she is hopeful the latest federal trans rights bill will pass its third reading.
If passed, Bill C-279 will add gender identity to the list of statuses protected under the Canadian Human Rights Act and amend the Criminal Code to include anti-transgender violence, assault and harassment.
Ryan says she hopes the 15 Conservative MPs who voted in favour on the bill’s second reading will again vote in favour on the third reading before the bill heads to the Senate.
“I’m encouraged that we have a Conservative majority government right now, so that means there will probably not be another election for a good period of time,” Ryan says. “Which means we will have enough time to get it through the Senate.”
Gender Mosaic organized five trans flag-raisings across the city Nov 19. Ottawa By-Law, Ottawa Paramedics and the Ottawa Fire Services all raised flags in support.
Councillors David Chernushenko and Katherine Hobbs spoke at the flag-raising at Ottawa City Hall.
“It’s days like this that make you feel very proud to represent the city,” Hobbs said.
Chernushenko spoke of progress, saying he doesn’t think he would have felt comfortable speaking at a trans event five years ago due to social stigma and perception.
“There’s a long way to go yet,” he said. “Let us keep working together.”
Gender Mosaic treasurer Kay Lockhart, who is a veteran of the Canadian military, drew parallels between fallen service men and women and her fallen trans brothers and sisters. “It is a time to remember fallen members of the human race. There is a vast difference in the reasons for their demise, however.”
Less than three years ago, Lockhart lived as a man, hiding in the closet, she said.
“[I was] afraid to accept who I was for fear of what it would lead to. Once I accepted who I was it didn’t take me long to realize I had to stand up. As a soldier, I put my life on the line for years as well. I’m here to tell you that we don’t choose this life. We are people whose gender doesn’t match with the person residing between the ears. All we want is to live our lives, enjoying the same things everyone else does.”
Mayor Jim Watson and Police Chief Charles Bordeleau spoke at the banner unfurling at the Ottawa Police Service headquarters.
Watson denounced attacks on trans people and called for a “united front against hatred.”
“Ottawa is a very diverse city. The City of Ottawa is committed to build a city for everyone,” he said. “We will continue to work with the Ottawa Police Service and members of the GLBTQ community to foster this inclusiveness and to build Ottawa as a welcoming and inclusive society.”
Gender Mosaic president Sophia Cassivi told the crowd she recently attended a trans conference in Erie, Pennsylvania. The Ottawa trans community’s progress is an example communities across North America hope to emulate, she said.
“I can report to you that when we speak about our experiences and the progress we have made, we are the envy of many,” she said. “Ottawa is seen as an example of unity between the police, the city and the transgender community.”
On Nov 20 a candlelight vigil begins in the Festival Control boardroom in city hall. The event will move to the Human Rights Monument before proceeding to PTS for refreshments.