Over 100 Canadian Organizations Respond to Rise in Anti-Trans Organizing with Joint Statement

Over 100 feminist and allied organizations from across the country, which represent tens of thousands of people, have signed onto a statement affirming their desire for a feminist movement that is trans inclusive and rejects the dangerous and bigoted rhetoric and ideology espoused by Trans Exclusionary Radical ‘Feminists’ (TERFs) in Canada. 

“In order to advance all women’s equity, rights, health and safety, we must ensure that the needs, experiences, ideas, rights and recommendations of transfeminine people in particular and all trans and gender diverse communities more broadly are reflected in our policies, programs and advocacy efforts,” says Debbie Owusu-Akyeeah, Executive Director of the Canadian Centre for Gender and Sexual Diversity. 

Signatories firmly believe that supporting the rights of trans people is essential to protecting ALL women and all people from violence and discrimination. Amidst organized attempts to define trans inclusivity as an attack on women, Canadian organizations advancing women’s rights, 2SLGBTQ+ rights, sexual and reproductive rights and the empowerment of women and girls have banded together to vehemently reject this characterization as thinly veiled transphobia and transmisogyny. 

Over the past five years in particular, anti-trans organizers and activists have used ostensibly feminist rhetoric to organize against the rights of trans and gender diverse people. In 2016, they fought against the adoption of trans rights bill C-16; the bill which successfully led to the amendment of the Canadian Human Rights Act to add gender identity and gender expression to the list of prohibited grounds for discrimination. Most recently, they have been actively advocating against the federal conversion therapy ban bill C-6, which is currently awaiting third reading and in its final vote in the House of Commons before heading to the Senate. At the same time, anti-trans hate continues across Canada, including posters distributed across Canadian cities this past spring. 

This backlash against trans rights is not limited to Canada, and is ramping up internationally. Similar attacks on trans people and their movements are taking place globally, despite repeated global recognition of trans rights as human rights, and their centrality in feminist and social justice movements. Such global backlash includes campaigns that seek to delegitimize the work of 2SLGBTQ+ organizations and directly attack 2SLGBTQ+ individuals and activists, coordinated efforts to remove references to “gender” and “gender identity” in UN agreements, and targeted efforts to repeal trans rights protections.

“For too long, we have allowed trans-exclusionary feminisms to thrive,” says Fae Johnstone, Principal Consultant with Wisdom2Action. “Enough is enough, it’s time to confront blatant TERF activity and to bring trans inclusion and liberation to life in our organizations.”

The 100+ organizations signing onto the joint statement are coming together to firmly assert space for the voices of trans people in Canadian feminist movements, to accelerate efforts to affirm, engage, employ and uplift trans and gender diverse people, and to act in solidarity with trans communities and movements. In so doing, we need the media to support in uplifting these voices and recognizing the danger in amplifying anti-trans hate.

Notes for editors

The statement and complete list of signatories is available here: https://www.actioncanadashr.org/news/2021-05-04-our-feminism-trans-inclusive

Debbie Owusu-Akyeeah and Fae Johnstone are available for interview

Media contacts

Ani Colekessian
Director of Communications
Action Canada for Sexual Health and Rights

Debbie Owusu-Akyeeah
Executive Director
Canadian Centre for Gender and Sexual Diversity

Fae Johnstone
Principal Consultant

Posted on 2021-05-04