The Federation of Asian Canadian Lawyers BC (“FACL BC”) is aware that on Wednesday, September 20, 2023, organized anti-trans protests were held across Canada. These protests, which were met by counter-protests in support of the 2SLGBTQIA+ community, are an escalation of the alarming rise in anti-trans rhetoric, violence, and legislation throughout the nation. FACL BC condemns the far-right and anti-trans views expressed at these protests and reiterates its commitment to stand in solidarity with Two-Spirit, trans, non-binary, and gender diverse communities. FACL BC recognizes its intersectional members and affirms its mandate to promote justice, equity, and opportunity not only for Asian Canadian legal professionals, but also the wider community.
In addition to the organized demonstrations, it is especially disturbing to see that political actors are also contributing to the spreading of hate, misinformation, and violence against the Two-Spirit, trans, non-binary, and gender diverse communities. Some provinces have recently made changes to their school policies which prevent Two-Spirit, trans, non-binary, and gender diverse youth from using their preferred pronouns and names at school without parental consent, regardless of whether they have safe and supportive homes. These policy changes are being promoted as upholding “parental rights”, which are not recognized by Canadian human rights law or the Charter, but will have the effect of outing 2SLGBTQ students and potentially exposing them to violence at home. These policies have been criticized by 2SLGBTQIA+ activists and civil rights groups as well as provincial child and youth advocates.
Furthermore, the Conservative Party of Canada recently voted to approve a national policy to limit gender-affirming care for minors. While the outcome of legal and political action against such policies is uncertain, what is certain is that these policy changes will lead to harmful effects on Two-Spirit, trans, non-binary, and gender diverse youth (who have five to seven times higher rates of thoughts of and suicide attempts, respectively) and their further marginalization. All youth have the constitutional right to safety and security, regardless of their gender identity, and this right is not subject to any “parental rights” (which are not constitutionally recognized). Schools must remain safe for all students, especially when their homes are not safe or where they are not comfortable being out to their parents, and these policies are a step in the wrong direction. Finally, according to recent Statistics Canada data, police reported hate crimes motivated by sexual orientation increased 64% from 2020 to 2021. There was also an increase in reported harassment, intimidation, threats of violence, misinformation, and hate-motivated protests throughout Canada, particularly affecting places where youth are such as schools and drag story times.
British Columbia does not currently have a sexual orientation and gender identity (“SOGI”) curriculum. However, throughout the kindergarten to grade 12 curriculum, students explore topics of human rights, including possible discussions of SOGI. Additionally, British Columbia schools are encouraged to leverage resources such as SOGI 123 to support educators in addressing such topics.
As we experience this concerning rise in anti-trans activity and rhetoric, it is more important than ever to use our voices and actions to support every Two-Spirit, trans, non-binary, and gender diverse person’s rights to live openly, authentically, and proudly. FACL BC commits to creating a place of belonging for all our members and the wider 2SLGBTQIA+ community and to advocating on their behalf. FACL BC calls on the legal profession to stand up for the rights of Two-Spirit, trans, non-binary, and gender diverse people as it has done for so many others. FACL BC acknowledges and supports the rights of Two-Spirit, trans, non-binary, and gender diverse people to be treated with respect and dignity, to have access to appropriate medical care, and to be their true and authentic selves. It is only through diversity that we can achieve a just and fully engaged society.