Editorial: Transphobes can catch these hands

Graphic Carl Bindman

Content warning: This article contains themes of self-harm.

After a concerning number of people attended the so-called “One Million March for Children” on Sept. 20, The Link reiterates its profound commitment to uplifting trans voices and all members of the LGBTQIA2S+ community. We stand in solidarity with trans children, offering our unwavering support in advocating for their rights.

We are proud to have covered the march from the perspective of the counter-protesters–members of the queer community and allies–who stood side by side and rallied to protect trans rights. 

It is disheartening to witness the struggles trans children in Canada are currently facing. 

While there has been progress in the country in recognizing and protecting the rights of transgender individuals, including Bill C-16, we are facing a possible wave of regression with the alarming rise of conservative pushback on LGBTQIA2S+ rights.

Canada may not have blatantly discriminatory laws compared to some U.S. states which prohibit trans people from accessing healthcare–at least not at the federal level. Despite this, transphobia is very much present, and gender affirming care remains severely limited for the community. 
Canadian Conservative leaders at all government levels have adopted rhetoric and policies similar to Republican lawmakers in the United States. A prime example is the Conservative Party of Canada leader Pierre Poilievre tabling policy to restrict trans healthcare for youth.

Conservative ghouls are actively campaigning through the use of fear mongering, anger, hate and many parents’ ignorance towards LGBTQIA2S+ issues in order to deny trans children their right to exist. 

The rhetoric used in these campaigns only radicalizes people further on the fringe of fascism. 

Based on our coverage and other reporting done outside Montreal, the marchers weren't just far-right agitators. These protests included many socially conservative religious groups and bigoted families. These groups unaccustomed to the queer community are easily preyed upon by conservatives who use moral panic over the notion that their children are being influenced by “gender ideology” to carry out drastic policy manoeuvres.

Time and again, conservatives have used this playbook to undermine LGBTQIA2S+ rights in education, as queer panic in public schools goes back decades under the guise of “parental rights.”

Spineless politicians are using the fear of mainly white conservative parents to gain political advantage, while throwing the trans community under the bus.

Studies have consistently shown that transgender children who receive support and affirmation from their families and communities, as well as having access to proper gender-affirming healthcare, increase their mental wellbeing as they feel accepted and taken care of.

Social conservatives pushing to erase trans voices through rejection and discrimination only leads to trans youth experiencing needless emotional distress, depression and suicide. Any government that enacts anti-trans legislation has blood on its hands.

We need to protect trans children and not let their suffering become a tool for cheap right-wing political points.

While our current Premier might disagree, playing both sides and protecting the bigotry of parents ignorant towards trans issues is deeply immoral.

We need to collectively push back against the growing ideology of transphobia. We can’t let fascists win by perpetuating hatred and manipulating the fear of parents and religious groups at the expense of the rights of other marginalized people. 

Every child deserves to feel safe, loved and free to explore their identity without facing violence or being shut out of their community.

This article originally appeared in Volume 44, Issue 3, published October 3, 2023.