November 20th, 2015
By Erin Seatter | @erinlynds
Today is the Transgender Day of Remembrance, marked in memory of those gender-variant people who have died because of anti-trans* hatred or other forms of violence including racism and sex work stigma.
But more than a memorial, the day also reminds us of how much work there is to do when it comes to understanding gender and accepting the accompanying range of identities.
An art project called Trans Day of Resilience highlights both the violence and the vibrancy that affects trans* lives, linking them to movements such as Black Lives Matter and Indigenous sovereignty. You can see all eight beautiful posters here.
Egale has highlighted Draw-the-Line – Against Transphobic Violence, which includes five graphics about putting a foot down when it comes to issues such as sexually violent humour and toxic sports cultures. The campaign seeks to encourage everyone to work towards safer and more trans-inclusive communities.
By doing so, we can do much to improve tran* health in the areas of HIV, sexual health, and beyond.
November 13th, 2015
by Janet Madsen | @janet_madsen
The Liberal government promised the country “Real Change”, and since his swearing in on November 4, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau delivered with his first big move: a Cabinet that is half women, half men. When the press asked him why this was so important to him, he answered with the now often quoted: “Because it’s 2015.”
It makes sense but it doesn’t make everyone happy. Many articles were published criticizing Trudeau’s move and suggesting that the women shouldn’t be in place simply because of their gender. I read a number of them and suggest these great responses if you missed them: Karen K Ho’s Meritocracy is a Lie (“The problem with [Cabinet critic Jonathan] Kay’s argument is how it ignores the fact that women and people of colour often experience a multitude of problems in addition to class.”) or Michael Laxer’s Reinforcing Male Privilege: The Trudeau cabinet, Andrew Coyne, and the Mythology of ‘Merit’. (“Only now, when a Prime Minister seeks to actually upend the quota imposed on our society by white men for the benefit of white men, do white men suddenly care at all about ‘merit!’“) Here at the office we were so happy about women in the Cabinet that we printed a picture of it with all the women’s names highlighted and put it on the wall. I also put a copy on my fridge at home so my son and daughter see this history in their lives.
If real change is going to happen, a different approach is needed. On our minds here at Positive Women’s Network is what might happen with a Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women Inquiry. The Liberals said they would act on this. How will it roll out?
Newly appointed Justice Minister Jody Wilson-Raybould of the We Wai Kai Nation will be a key leader on this one. She’s promised that the MMIW Inquiry is a priority for her. It’s a priority for communities too. Earlier this week, a BC coalition asked that any inquiry be structured so that communities are involved in a consultation process. Indigenous Affairs Minster Carolyn Bennett recognizes this is a complex issue that intersects many government departments, and is planning to start consultation with the provinces. It’s good to hear that the Prime Minister will be meeting with Indigenous leaders before the end of the year:
“This will be the first time the prime minister will meet at the same time with the leaders from all the major Indigenous organizations representing First Nation, Inuit, Metis and off-reserve Indigenous peoples since the days of the Liberal government of Paul Martin.”
Another promising move is Wilson-Raybould’s pledge to review the high numbers of Indigenous people in prisons. This is another complex issue that profoundly affects Indigenous health and communities. Risk for HIV infection is higher in prison as is the risk for Hepatitis C. Indigenous women make up one-third of the population of women in Canadian prisons. Racism and gender bias often work against women in the legal system, says Kim Pate, Executive Director of the Canadian Association of Elizabeth Fry Societies.
Personally, I hope the Liberals keep Howard Sapers, Correctional Investigator of Canada and popularly known in media headlines as the “prison watchdog”. I heard Sapers speak at the Health Beyond Bars conference at UBC last year, and his passion about prison health in general; support for mental health, addictions care, and support for those once they leave Corrections is admirable. The Conservatives didn’t like what he had to say and decided not to renew his contract. I sincerely hope that it is renewed, because he is an asset to prison reform.
A week and a half into this new government, there is the promise of meaningful movement on Real Change. I’m feeling optimistic and hopeful- a great way to feel as we move into the dark windy days of winter.