Hundreds of people are expected to take to the streets in support of transgender rights two days before the 2014 Vancouver Pride Parade.
This year’s Trans, Two-Spirit, and Genderqueer Liberation and Celebration March will travel from Clark Park to Victoria Park on Friday evening (August 1).
“It’s both a protest for trans rights and a celebration of trans people,” Shoshannah Izsak, one of the organizers of the march, told the Georgia Straight by phone. “Our community faces a lot of issues, like homelessness, unemployment, violence against our community, bullying at schools and at work.”
The transgender rights activist remarked that she is “very proud and happy” that the Vancouver school board updated its sexual orientation and gender identities policy in June to provide better support for trans students and staff.
But Izsak noted the trans community will be protesting street harassment, the erasing of its history, and the lack of legal protections for trans people facing discrimination.
“We’re also protesting the prison system, which abuses trans people by putting them in solitary confinement or denying them appropriate medical care,” the Vancouver resident said.
Qmunity’s Queer Terminology from A to Q defines trans (and transgender) as an “umbrella term that describes a wide range of people whose gender identity and/or expression differs from conventional expectations based on their assigned biological birth sex”.
According to the glossary, two-spirit is a “term used by some North American Aboriginal societies to describe people with diverse gender identities, gender expressions, gender roles, and sexual orientations”.
Meanwhile, genderqueer refers to “people who identify outside of the male-female binary”.
Izsak noted that the march encompasses the three communities because they are “very interconnected”.
“Vancouver has a large First Nations population,” she said. “Our organizers are all either trans, two-spirit, or genderqueer, and I think it would be hard to disentangle those communities.”
The march will begin in Clark Park at 6 p.m. It will head north on Commercial Drive and east on Grant Street to Victoria Park, where there will be speeches and performances.
Trans, two-spirit, genderqueer people, and allies are encouraged to come with costumes and noisemakers.
The march is being planned independently of the parade and other events organized by the Vancouver Pride Society.
“We’re our own community with our own issues,” Izsak said, “even though we’re also part of the LGBT community.”