2017 International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia

Another year, another International Day Against Homophobia, Biphobia, and Transphobia (IDAHOT). While many, particularly in Canada like to think that Canada is all loving and accepting of LGBTQ+ people, it really isn’t. Biphobia is still a problem, assumptions and attitudes against same gender/queer parents is an issue, and Bill C-16 is in Senate hearings. Not only is it in hearings, the speakers today, IDAHOT, are speaking against the bill. In the United States violence against LGBTQ+ people is on the rise, especially against trans women of colour. When trans women speak out publicly they are attacked by TERFS, neoNazis, religious fundamentalists, and others. Organisations that claim to act on behalf of LGBTQ+ people still only truly act for white gay men and, to a lesser extent, white lesbians. People of color, indiginous people, and trans people are often forgotten about, or only used for photo-ops.

This year today more important than it has been in quite a few years. In the United States the resurgence of social conservatives in positions of power has resulted in the rollback of LGBTQ+ rights. Violence against LGBTQ+ people is more obvious and blatant. “Right to discriminate” orders and legislation have greater chances of being signed.

In Canada we are seeing anti-trans people being given a national stage by the Senate Legal Affairs Committee in its discussion of bill C-16. The act to amend the Human Rights Act and Criminal Code to protect trans and gender diverse people at the federal level. The voices against include people who consider themselves progressive as well as those who are conservative. It makes for strange bed companions.

Online, trans people who are visible are continually being harassed. This week Dr. Rachel McKinnon’s Mother’s Day video, “Mothers Day 2017 Special: Should Trans Women Also Get to Celebrate “Mother’s Day?” Trans 101, #3” was targeted by TERFS soon after being published. Their comments being designed to cause as much pain and harm as possible for trans women. These attacks have continued through the week on YouTube and Twitter. They include threats to attack her by trying to get her fired. It is deplorable.

Sophie Labelle, creator of the comic Assigned Male receives threats constantly for her work. The latest round including Nazi and other hateful speech on the Assigned Male Facebook page. The page is, at the time of writing, down. Sophie’s work is excellent and important for trans people, non-binary people, and, really, for anyone with even a semi-open mind. For young people, it provides them with reassurance that they are not alone. She has received death threats, her address posted, and she is having to move for her own safety. She posted this on Facebook

These are just two examples of people being targeted for who they are and the work they are doing. There are many more.

Call to Action

Marking IDAHOT is not just about pointing out the discrimination, homophobia, transphobia, and biphobia. It is a day to mark and think about what each of us can do to make the world a better place.

  • Be aware of homophobia, transphobia, and biphobia when you see it. Do something to stop it. Support the target of the hate.
  • Be aware of your own prejudices, stereotypes, and how you support systemic oppressions.
  • Be aware of the intersectionalities that are present. It’s not just about white people. It’s not just about gay men.
  • Be aware of body shaming, fat phobia, unhealthy body image promotion, and the ways in which you contribute to it
  • Be aware of your own actions and words. Words are powerful. They can cause significant harm. They can be sources of healing. Choose wisely.
  • Be aware of how organisations you are involved with depend on the free labour and emotional labour of trans people, trans women, indigenous people, people of colour.

We all have our own internal prejudices, stereotypes, and ways in which we uphold systems of oppression. It takes consciousness and awareness to recognise these and work to eliminate them in our daily lives. We can do better. We must do better. Lives are on the line.

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