Intersectional Aid: Inside the Centre for Gender Advocacy
What Services Does the CGA Offer Concordia Students and the Broader Community?
A non-profit organization aiding students on issues related to gender and sexuality, The Centre for Gender Advocacy has been a staple in the Concordia community since 2001.
Working independently from the university, the centre takes pride in its use of an intersectional feminist approach. The CGA emphasizes the importance of accessible resources and services.
The centre is also home to a wide library of resources relating to advocacy in a harm-reduction approach. This means that their services are offered with the well-being of their clients at the forefront.
One of the centre’s key services is the Legal ID Clinic, the only one of its kind currently operating in Quebec. The clinic provides services for students and community members wanting to change their gender and name on identity documents and academic files.
Celeste Trianon, CGA’s trans advocacy coordinator, highlighted their experience with facilitating the centre’s continued service of chest binder distribution to the public on a pay what you can basis. They have worked at the centre for over a year.
Trianon is currently a student at Université de Montréal’s Faculty of Law. “I wish to continue with legal activism and give back to the community alongside my future career,” they said.
The CGA has also garnered respect for its campaign against Bill 2; this pushback against the originally transphobic bill, which would have turned back the clock on gender marker changes, led to major changes to the legislation.
In part because of Trianon and the CGA’s advocacy, Bill 2 resulted in non-binary people being legally recognized for the first time in Quebec’s colonial history.
Another service operated by the CGA is its the Peer Support and Advocacy program. Here, students can find a safe space to talk about their struggles with trained student volunteers trained in active listening.
“It’s heartwarming to see the pure gratitude of the people that access our services.” — Jordyn River
Students can also obtain referrals to other healthcare resources via the PSA program. The program is available on a drop-in or scheduled basis, meaning assistance is readily available for those who need a helping hand. Drop-ins are open from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. on Mondays and Wednesdays.
PSA Coordinator Barbara Saldana is a Concordia student majoring in women’s studies. She is also pursuing a double minor in immigration studies as well as diversity and the contemporary world program.
Saldana’s experience as both a student and activist is a testament to the many opportunities available for community and career building at Concordia. “I started off using the peer support services and found them very helpful,” she said. “Later, I applied for a position and became the coordinator.”
Saldana also provided information regarding new services that will be offered this year: dance and movement therapy, journaling groups, and peer support groups for queer and trans folk.
Administrative Coordinator Jordyn River spoke about different volunteer programs that the centre is implementing in the coming year, including a stream for campus outreach, library and archival volunteers, and finally, event volunteers.
“It’s heartwarming to see the pure gratitude of the people that access our services,” said River. “Seeing how powerful the services we provide day to day is one of the best parts of working at the centre.”
The coordinators at CGA operate within a non-hierarchical structure to deliver their services. Through external partnerships with other non-profit organizations like Quebec’s 2LGBTQ+ centre, Project 10, they have been able to create accessibility-related resources for the public, including a list of trans-friendly employers and a trans job fair, the first of its kind in Quebec.
The centre also maintains a map of gender-neutral washrooms on Concordia’s campuses. Coordinators pride themselves on creating an inclusive environment.
The CGA will be open on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 12 p.m. to 5 p.m. and Wednesdays from 12 p.m. to 7 p.m. during the Fall 2022 semester. Visit their website for additional information or to get involved.
This article originally appeared in Volume 43, Issue 1, published August 30, 2022.