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Transgender Awareness Week statement: A time of celebration, remembrance and urgent action on transphobia

Transgender Awareness Week text with Alliance logo.

This week is Transgender Awareness Week, and we celebrate alongside trans folk and their allies.

Websites like It Gets Better Canada have great resources for celebrating and educating about transgender identities and people, including ways to be in allyship.

We also take this chance to celebrate and spotlight Alliance members’ work in support of more accessible and safe trans care across Ontario, because trans care is primary care. In particular, we shine the light on 2022 Transformative Change Award recipients the Southwestern Ontario Youth Gender Diversity Clinic led by Chatham-Kent Community Health Centre, Windsor Essex CHC, and their partners.

As we wrap the week of awareness and celebration, however, we head into the solemn marking on November 20 of Transgender Day of Remembrance (TDOR).

Across Ontario, we continue to see regular examples of transphobic-motivated hate crimes, violence, and threats to people’s security and wellbeing. This is combined with the mainstreaming of anti-trans and transphobic political views, such as in the recent Ontario school board trustee elections. While many of these candidates may not have succeeded in the election, the success of some and the attempts by others offers a stark reminder of the openness, brazenness and apathy that continues to circulate hatred of trans people living in Ontario widely, and across all communities. Couple that with a continued lack of access to adequate and safe health care, and you get the conditions for continued oppression, violence and tragic deaths of transgendered people.

Lack of access to safe and appropriate health care, continued stigma, hate and transphobia, including violence, intimidation and other forms of oppression, continue to disproportionately impact trans people in Ontario, and beyond. Transphobia in all its forms is unacceptable. The Alliance and its members, for whom 2SLGBTQ+ people are a priority population, know that transphobia also intersects with racism, misogyny, homophobia and other forms of oppression, including economic, in ways that can make systemic and stigma-related barriers even more challenging. It’s why trans care among Alliance members is holistic, team-based and interprofessional when supporting people and their families, taking an approach that centres the voice and needs of the person impacted. It’s why trans care rooted in comprehensive primary health care aims to meet people, quite literally, where they’re at, both in the community, and where they are in their own personal health journey.

Health care workers and organizations have particularly important roles to change the way trans people are treated and helping to reduce the risks that come from transphobia. At our 2022 primary health care conference, keynote Fae Johnstone, Executive Director and Co-Owner of Wisdom2Action (W2A), unpacked the connections between health care services and resources, especially for trans youth, and the outcomes and impacts people face later in life.

On Sunday, we will stand in solidarity once again with the transgender and wider 2SLGBTQ+ community marking TDOR. The Alliance for Healthier Communities, its members, partners and allies, do not accept the conditions of transphobia, transphobic discrimination and intersectional racism, or the continued apathy of systems, policymakers and leaders in the face of an epidemic of violence against trans and non-binary people. We must all take a strong stance in our individual lives, organizations and beyond to counter the narratives we see, regularly, that seek to normalize and institutionalize transphobia. Gender affirming care is LIFE-affirming care, and every health equity champion can play a role in helping to address transphobia and promoting better access to the care that can save lives.

Friday, November 18, 2022