“Down with hatred”: Hundreds of pro-trans protestors counter the OMMC

The two protests clashed with each other throughout their marching around the city

(Left) Pro-trans protester clashes with OMMC protestor. Photo Andraé Lerone Lewis

On Sept. 20, over 250 people gathered at McGill’s Roddick Gates in support of a pro-trans counter-protest.

Organized by trans activist Celeste Trianon, this counter-protest comes in opposition to the “One Million March for Children,” a nationwide protest based in hateful rhetoric and misinformation against the “indoctrination and sexualization” of children. The counter protest was a rallying of trans people and their allies. 

Protesters gathered with pride flags and signs in support of the community, some of which featured slogans like “à bas la haine”—‘down with hatred’— “trans people are not your enemy,” and “protect trans kids.” 

Queer McGill, a student-run service by queer people for queer people, had set up a table with coffee and snacks, as well as free masks available to pro-trans protesters. Elena, a TA at McGill who wished to remain anonymous for safety reasons, expressed discomfort that an anti-trans and anti-queer protest was happening on a campus where many LGBTQIA2S+ people work and study.

As more people continued to arrive at the gates, Trianon addressed the crowd of protesters, speaking to the strength and resilience of the trans community, before offering her microphone to anyone in the crowd who wished to speak. 

Nola Baggio, a trans-woman and student, missed class to attend the protest. She addressed how lonely and isolating the experience of being trans can be, but stressed the importance of finding solace in the community. She explained that “it’s integral for people to show up” and support the trans community and how it’s easy for everyone to assume someone else will come and back the community up in times of need, even when that isn’t the case. 

Shortly after Trianon and Baggio spoke, pro-trans protesters then moved into the street where they clashed with protesters from the One Million March for Children. The pro-trans collective stood against the crowd, chanting slogans like “trans rights are human rights,” “no space for hate,” and “fascists, go home” to the opposing protesters. Police had positioned themselves in between the two groups, but tensions increased as the day went on. 

Shayan Sharar Ali, a queer, Muslim, McGill student expressed supportive feelings about the protest. He said that “it’s important to come here and support a marginalized community […] that has been threatened recently.” 

(Center) Celeste Trianon gives a speech to the crowd of pro-trans protestors at the McGill Roddick gates. Photo Andraé Lerone Lewis

Another McGill student who wished to remain anonymous for safety reasons expressed discomfort about the implications of a predominantly white crowd telling a group of immigrant families to “go home,” but acknowledged that many of the pro-trans protesters could not see who exactly they were protesting.

Mubeenah Mughal, a Muslim mother who was sent the information to the original protest but showed up in support of the pro-trans protest instead said that she “wanted the trans community to know that lots of people supported them.” Explaining that her sister was protesting as part of the One Million March for Children; Mughal doesn’t think the protesters know they’re promoting hate. “I think they honestly believe they’re protecting their children, but that’s not how it works.” 

The One Million March for Children protest comes at a time when anti-trans and anti-queer attitudes have increased, often expressed via concerns that LGBTQIA2S+ inclusive education in schools. They are in support of legislation that forcibly outs students using new names or pronouns at school, like New Brunswick’s Policy 713, and are against LGBTQIA2S+ representation in schools as they believe it confuses children. 

In the late morning, the original protest and pro-trans counter-protest separated, with pro-trans protesters cooperating with police and marching around the block. The anti-trans protesters then marched away from McGill, eventually passing through Concordia’s downtown campus. The intensity of the protests had risen, and Concordia students walking around campus were subjected to those marching through waving middle fingers, chanting “leave our kids alone,” and booing the few students who stood up for trans rights.

A first-year Concordia student, Eaghan Wright, had approached a marcher to confront them about spreading hate on campus only to be shoved by a man who was marching. Shortly before the march finished passing through Concordia, a school bus full of people stopped at the intersection of Guy and De Maisonneuve West, and those on board opened the bus windows to cheer in support of the anti-trans marchers. 

Counter-protesters on the Concordia campus waved signs and shouted “protect trans kids” as the march passed through, but were met with aggression. One group had water thrown at them while a single person giving marchers a thumbs down was loudly booed.