Transgender march organizer protests Vancouver Pride parade’s politics

Tami Starlight says she’s tired of the transgender community’s “lack of meaningful involvement” in the Vancouver Pride Parade and Festival.

The Downtown Eastside resident is one of several transgender-rights activists organizing the Trans Celebration and Liberation March, set to take place on July 29, two days before this year’s Pride parade.

Starlight, the executive director of the Vancouver Transgender Day of Remembrance Society, told the Georgia Straight the trans march is being planned outside of Pride, in part, to make a statement about what they feel is the transgender community’s exclusion from the annual event.

“There’s lots of tokenism—having a few drag queens and having an organization march—but what is our involvement?” she said by phone.

According to Starlight, transgender rights “don’t exist” in British Columbia and Canada. Despite this situation, she charged, transgender people are “pretty much ignored” by the Vancouver Pride Society (VPS), which puts on the Pride parade. She argues the parade has become too corporate, apolitical, and characterized by a “lackadaisical” attitude to LGBT rights.

“The Pride march didn’t begin because we were all so tickled pink at how great our society was, right?” Starlight said. “It’s as much a celebration as it is a protest, and that’s the history of it since day one. Now we’ve become quite ridiculous.”

Scott Blythe, general manager of the VPS, confirmed that Pride has been lacking in transgender-focused events in the past. He told the Straight the VPS “reached out” this year to the transgender community to see how the society could better support its efforts.

These discussions resulted in plans to hold a trans barbecue during Pride Week. On July 27, the event will take place on the VPS office’s terrace.

“We wanted to provide some sort of framework and some support for the trans community, to say, ”˜We want to show that visibility’—on their terms, not on our terms,” Blythe said by phone.

Regarding the “commercialization” of Pride, Blythe explained that the parade is expensive to put on so the society forms partnerships with businesses and organizations supportive of the LGBT communities.

The VPS is “very inclusive” of transgender people, according to Raigen D’Angelo.

A former Trans Alliance Society chair who sits on the VPS board of directors, D’Angelo noted that the Pride society revised its constitution a few years ago, adding “celebrating the transgender community” to its mandate. She said the VPS has given grants to the Transgender Day of Remembrance and the TAS in the past.

D’Angelo maintained that the VPS did not have enough time to properly arrange a trans march this summer. But she told the Straight the society plans to put on a trans march as part of next year’s Pride.

“The whole purpose that I have on the board is to ensure that trans issues are taking place and that we are a very inclusive organization,” D’Angelo said by phone. “I’m sorry that they decided to go in the direction of speaking poorly of Pride.”

Marie Little, current chair of the TAS, told the Straight her group plans to march in the Pride parade and staff a booth at the festival on Sunset Beach on July 31. She’s hopeful the VPS’s “first effort”—the trans barbecue—will lead to more such events in the future.

“Yes, I have the same concern, but possibly less so,” Little said by phone of Starlight’s criticisms. “I think that the Pride society is starting to become aware of the trans community and our concerns.”

On July 29, Starlight will MC the trans march, which will begin at 5 p.m. at Nelson Park in the West End. The event will kick off with a rally and speeches.

According to Starlight, this year’s march is an “extrapolation” of the 2010 Trans Pride March, which also wasn’t affiliated with Pride.

“We’re protesting gender policing, trans erasure, and oppression, and we’re celebrating gender expression and diversity,” Starlight said.

You can follow Stephen Hui on Twitter at

Comments (33) Add New Comment
Tami Starlight
"For the record".

Vancouver Pride Society has never supported, financially or otherwise, the Vancouver Transgender Day of Remembrance (Society).

I speak for myself. I do not speak for anyone else.
If I speak on behalf of an organization - I will say so.

I hope this begins more dialogue with the community as a whole.
Statements in this story speak of a long history of tokenism and erasure.

I believe there are many ways to "have pride". I disagree with the Vancouver Pride Society on many levels.

The trans community across this country is taking a stand for ourselves.

Remember - you are an ally when we say you are. Not when you do. Because many are now using the trans name to further their social standing and are not allies.

We have a long way to go.
We can and must do it together!

However, by ignoring our important history, we lose much and will continue to make the same mistakes.
They are opportunities to grow.

Perhaps the Vancouver Pride Society should have a more meaningful dialogue with the greater community(& not just the trans community)? I know plenty of people who feel as I do. Our society is so unequal and it is becoming worse. Vancouver is the most unequal city in this colony of England called Canada. This issues do not "get better" by ignoring they exist or by belittling and silencing people who bring them up.

The personal is political!
I believe it is not only time for these gay and lesbian pride societies to stop the tokenism and erasure, but to also stop the corporatization of our community and remember what PRIDE is and was truly about!

*this is a beginning so stay tuned*

Rating: -7
This is silly. Why not just march in the Pride Parade, banners flying?

Going down Tami's road we'll end up with special recognition for gay Protestants, bearish Catholics, and nighthawk Mormons. Sheesh.

And what about the well-known half-black / half-Jewish trans people?? What about them? Surely they deserve special recognition... and lots of grant money too.

We demand special rights and recognition for the Eskimo trans community! Gefa okkur alla peningana núna, eí°a munum vií° sagt í¾ér.

Rating: -5
Standing Water
I am at a loss for what it is about, except perhaps as an opportunity for people who define themselves by their sex-acts to wallow in their own immaturity. Sex is for reproduction, the fusion of genetic material---everything else, while it may be "fun," hey, kids, remember: many members of the "human species" (more next graph) used to watch people be disemboweled by lions for "fun," so just because you enjoy it does not mean it is moral.

One thing I don't get about the "trans" community is why they even bother with gender. I mean, you're an individual---species/genera are incorporeal things, that is, they're like good/evil spirits/demons. Saying "I am a male" or "I am a female" is much like saying "I am a good spirit." It's a nice story for the kids, but as the individuals mature, should not there be a grand de-speciation, rather than the "inclusion" of people so out of it that they think they can move from one thing that does not exist to another thing that does not exist?

All of this babble rings fairly hollow to me, especially the whining about lack of "rights." If you want to see an individual who is more oppressed than any deviantly sexual (or whatever it is now) individual, find a drug user. Pot users are stolen from by the state; does the state steal your drag-gear? The Provincial Government, as far as I know, will placate a gender dysphoric with expensive surgical enhancements. Will they provide heroin or other opiates for addicts simply because they're addicts? Oh, there's methadone, which I have heard sucks---it's sort of funny that the deviantly sexual are actively helped to have "fun" in their deviance, which is arguably _not at all_ cross-culturally acceptable and never has been, but will not help the dietarily deviant have "fun" in their deviance---and using opiates is not even all that deviant; opium (and the other plants/entheogens/etc.) has had wide cross-cultural acceptance as a pain reliever and euphoric for centuries.

"Now we’ve become quite ridiculous.”

I suspect you have no idea, and thanks to all sorts of socialist hogbroth, if anyone even dares say how ridiculous all of this has become, they risk censure by the Thought/Speech police.
Rating: -11
re Standing Water
If you're going to start figuring out who's more oppressed, I think it's unfair to only include official state oppression. I'll agree that pot users are more oppressed *by the state* than trans folk, but the oppression from the general public (especially the drunken violent hockey rioter types) and various religious groups comes down far harder on trans folk. For example, I've never heard of an impromptu "pothead bashing", at least at the hands of anyone besides the state.

I just wish oppression could be fought without dividing ourselves up into tiny ultra-specific special interest groups. The initiation of violence against other humans is universally wrong, I don't see the point in dividing up into the "Stop Violence Against People Aged 32-36.5 With Short Brown Hair Society" and "End Violence on Thursdays but Only When It's Cloudy Campaign."
Rating: -5
The reason is simple: when the GLBT organizations become focused on the G and L (and, perhaps, B - they're slightly more often included than the T) and working internally either fails (is ignored) or is impossible (because those people are completely excluded from access within) then there are two choices: be silent and accept it or do something about it. Tami is doing something about it.
Rating: -4
Standing Water
"For example, I've never heard of an impromptu "pothead bashing", at least at the hands of anyone besides the state."

But the state is everyone, that's the myth of a nation, that the nation-state includes everyone--and even trans people vote in elections, &c &c so the idea that they're not willing collaborators with the state that enacts violence against drug users is nonsensical. They see their own problems as more important that the violence they sanction against drug users by their participation within the state.

"I just wish oppression could be fought without dividing ourselves up into tiny ultra-specific special interest groups."

It can, but not by socialists or radicals, almost all of whom want two things: (a) special interest funding to promote "acceptance" of their deviance and (b) university professor jobs to propagandize novel theories of their deviance. Drug users really don't want either---they simply want to be left alone to get high, and this is a large part of why they're not as successful as the socioeconomic special interest groups like the transes, the gays and so on and so forth. Those groups _want_, and any trans/gay person can correct me if I am wrong, to normalize their deviance for the K-12 population---I don't know too many drug users who would want to normalize drug experimentation among the K-12 population as a whole---maybe some drug use around 16+, but certainly I doubt anyone in the drug culture would want to normalize, for example, IVing heroin, and to target such propaganda at 6 year-olds, the same way that the gay community wants to normalize sodomy and target such propaganda at young children.

How is it that religious groups "come down hard" on trans people? Are we to be subject to a Thought Police that prevents doubleplusungood people from spreading their doubleplusungood views about heteronormative gender stereotypes? A big problem with the deviantly sexual culture is that they feel they have a "right" to be exempted from critique of their deviance.
Rating: -1
re Standing Water

Statism is a weapon, and like any weapon, it will be grabbed by anyone who feels endangered, because they don't realize that using this weapon in the hopes of satisfaction will only incur further pain. It's like the ring in Lord of the Rings. Drug users vote too, say for the Marijuana Party. Does that make them "willing collaborators with the state that enacts violence" against themselves? Yes. Are they conscious to this? No. They're grabbing at the nearest, sharpest weapon, because they're rightfully scared. To them, they are merely doing what's in their best interest.

"Deviant" is a helluva word to use because it forces one to define "normal" which is more or less impossible, short of bellyfeel. The one thing that might be a symptom of normalcy is the inability to agree with others on what normal means. I'm not a fan of public K-12 schools, or public universities, (30% of highschool grads never read another book in their life, and it's even worse, 40%, for university grads) So I understand if you don't want your kid going anywhere near them. But you're saying you don't want any kids to hear anything about accepting what you call deviance. So who should censor the teachers of "deviance"? Socrates was executed for "corrupting the youth"

Doubleplusungood isn't the only relevant Orwellian newspeak word in the context of this issue.

From 1984:
"Goodsex is any form of sex considered acceptable by the Party; specifically, this refers only to married heterosexual sex for the exclusive purpose of providing new children for the Party. All other forms of sex are considered sexcrime."
Sounds familiar.....
Rating: 0
Kelly Worrall
Promoting conflict leads to conflict. Promoting division leads to division.

The path to equality is reconciliation - the harp is stronger than the sword. Gaining acceptance is more easily accomplished with a smile and a handshake than a yell and a fist.
Rating: 0
The Parade needs to be cancelled period! Why do they need a Parade?
Rating: +28
The Gay Pride parade is a good subsitute for the PNE parade which was done away with many years ago. Both parades had clowns, marching bands, floats, and politicians. Of course there was less emphasis on sex at the PNE parade but hey, a parades a parade and all the clowns are out.
Transgenedered people should just show up and march just like any other group. They don't need to get up on a float and dance in their under wear, they could do society a service by providing information about the trans gendered.
Rating: +3
Another protester protesting protested protesters...
Rating: -8
Kyle M.
while the stigma towards the gay community has been on the decline (due to the hardwork and efforts of many people) little has been done for the trans community.
trans people are still highly stigmatized in our society as being abnormal and "not right". this attitude is present not only in the heterosexual mainstream but also in the gay community. just by the comments on this wall people clearly don't even know the meaning of the word "transgender".
Tami has a very legitimate point, in that it is unfortunate that we celebrate the "liberation" of one community but largely ignore the ongoing struggles of another....
Rating: +14
Mike Puttonen
Brilliant comments from Birdy!
Rating: +4
Standing Water
"So I understand if you don't want your kid going anywhere near them. But you're saying you don't want any kids to hear anything about accepting what you call deviance."

No, that's not what I am saying. I didn't wander into the topic of compulsory primary education (mandated by international covenant) because it is very far afield, but now I will, just to clarify my position. I don't believe in any compulsory education nor public education. For education to be truly free, there must be no state involvement at all, and certainly no state-actors forcing people to become "educated."

Compulsory primary education is little more than slave-conditioning where people learn to respond to their state-granted birth names and to fill out paperwork, which they will continue doing to get DLs, SINs, Passports, Statutory Legal Tender Denomionated Bank Accounts and other statist objet d'art.

Now, that view right there, that's not a normal view. Normal people go "what, Driver License, SIN, passport, Legal Tender? Those are just the things we use to do what we want to do!" Do I want my view inculcated using an Ideological State Apparatus? Nope. But I also don't want the countervailing view inculcated from 5 (3+ if the EC educators get their way) using extorted monies. So I am not supporting a "normal" indoctrination as opposed to "progressive" indoctrination---I am fundamentally opposed to indoctrination of any sense, but I do think it takes an especially malevolent sort of person to use the K-12 system to inculcate acceptance of deviance. If we are to have compulsory education, reading, writing, rithmetic. Sure, you can argue using cultural theory that reading/writing are the ever-shifting ground of consciousness, language is the organ of thought, and all sorts of similar baffle, and that therefore we cannot have any disciplinary boundaries at all, those things being linguistically constituted and therefore arbitrary. As I said above, I solve this problem by removing compulsory education. Let the stupid be stupid. Education just makes them think they're better than nature made them, anyway, because, and this is the hilarious part, they're capable of filling out paperwork---most K-12 homework these days, except _maybe_ the essays in well-run English classes, are basically very complex passport forms. Fill in the blank, get a Passport and a sense of undeserved intellectual integrity.

Finally, Birdy, if you think my comments are directed at reducing people's sexual freedom, they are not. I don't care about how/where/when people have sex. I don't really believe sex in public should be illicit, as long as people wipe down the surfaces afterwards, or something like that. What I take great exception to is the use of compulsory primary education for overt socialist engineering, all without admitting "we have our values, we use this apparatus to inculcate them"---the language of "rights" is used very heavily by these people.

Rights are fictional, like gender identity. Rights are incorporeal things that are used to facilitate litigation---that is, instead of having two people battle it out, winner take all, dead taking nothing, they engage in a fictitious process involving a third party, who accepts sequences of sounds from them, arguing over who has more right. Then this interloper will assign the disputed thing to the one who sings prettiest/most in tune with what the interloper thinks is the proper tune.

"Socrates was executed for "corrupting the youth""

I disagree. He was executed because he refused to leave.

Finally, most of this discussion is being had, as it were, with the hands tied behind the back---I should like to see psychedelic psychotherapy for gender dysphorics, but, alas, the statists don't want anyone to be that happy with what nature gave them.
Rating: +1
@Standing Water - You don't "get" trans at all. You speak from privilege and offend with your ignorance. I don't even know where to begin with you inane comments except to say you are not nearly as clever or enlightened as you think you are. Thanks for dismissing my reality completely. Maybe you should learn to listen to voices other than your amazing intellectual one.
Rating: -5
re Standing
I can't go on debating in a circle, so here's a summary from someone who knows more about this issue than either of us:
Rating: -1
While i'm absolutely no friend of corporatized, non-political parades celebrating homogeneity and Liberals and cops and capitalism in our communities, i think it does a real disservice to all the Two Spirit, trans, intersex, genderqueer and gender non-conforming people who have participated in official VPS events in various ways to say that “There’s lots of tokenism—having a few drag queens and having an organization march—but what is our involvement?”.

No, the people who have participated are not all drag queens and/or tokens. They were and are taking up space in their own ways.

Have another march, absolutely, and you can be sure as shit this trans queer will be there with bells and boots on, and will not be at any VPS events; but while i do it, i also respect that others need to do it in their own ways. Diversity of tactics and all that.
Rating: -6
Standing Water
"You don't "get" trans at all. You speak from privilege and offend with your ignorance."

Yep, this is about the strength of these arguments. Anyone who disagrees will not be convinced using reason---there are cultural theory watchwords ("privilege") etc. to use, and then the talk about how disagreement is _offensive_.

"Maybe you should learn to listen to voices other than your amazing intellectual one."

So, maybe I should serve other people's voices instead of my own? Sounds like an undesirable sort of bondage.

"re Standing
I can't go on debating in a circle, so here's a summary from someone who knows more about this issue than either of us:"

You can't, or you don't want to? What else have you got to do that is more pressing? Great trope---did you learn that at a University? I think this whole debate, that it is even had, is fairly L7. There are thousands of kids in prison for psychedelic drugs, and these ponces are arguing about how oppressed they are because people snigger if they go outside in drag? Cry me a fucking river. This is nothing but depraved, media-inculcated decadence---the modern-day equivalent of fiddling while Rome burns (well, now the fire-department keeps it from burning, while the corporatists loot to their heart's content).

As for your drafting that child into this argument, it recapitulates categorist dogma re: identity---that we are not units, prime, indivisible, irreconcilable, but that we are part of species/genera, of categories. "Boy", "girl." There is no such thing as a boy or girl, therefore there is no such thing as a boy brain or a girl brain. There is your brain, there is my brain. This is the exact same memetic psychosis that leads to statism, btw---"I am a girl!" is no less delusional than "I AM CANADIAN!" Both are fictions---historically, the legal fiction of femaleness afforded exemption from military service and other tangible benefit. Women were considered mature at different ages from men.

Now that everyone is equal, what's the need for these categories? Why "Boy" and "Girl"? Why not "Boy", "Girl" and "Unicorn"?

"Thanks for dismissing my reality completely."

No problem! You don't get your own reality. There's only one. And if you want to modify "your" reality by brainwashing me into accept your PR, well, that's not really your reality, it is my reality you want to alter---so if we all get our own realities, you are being very, very selfish, in trying to control _my_ reality, are you not?
Rating: +145
Standing Water, what are you even talking about?
You said in your first sentence here "I am at a loss for what it is about,", and this seems to be panning out predictably. If you really have no idea what this is about, why the need to comment at all?

Back on topic, what does any of your commentary have to do with the topic of trans folks setting off and doing our own thing outside of VPS guidelines?
Rating: -3
Ken Coolen
The Vancouver Pride Society wanted to address this conversation as we take all feedback seriously. Our organization strives to be as inclusive as possible and is always open to ways to work with all parts of our communities. The VPS has considered itself allies of the Trans-Community over the years. We can appreciate the struggles the Trans community still faces to this day.

In 2010, we were proud to have a Trans Person as a Grand Marshal and this year we honour Bill Siksay for his work on Bill C389, which would amend the Canadian Human Rights Act to protect the rights of transgender or transsexual citizens. It would prohibit discrimination on the basis of “gender identity” or “gender expression” in the workplace or elsewhere, and would amend the Criminal Code so that crimes committed against people because they are transgender or transsexual would be treated as hate crime.

Over the past four years, the VPS has had 5 Trans Identified people on the board, two of which sat as Vice President during their time. A couple of years ago our constitution was changed to include Transgender, Transsexual, and Two Spirited. We are striving to bridge the gap with the trans communities through outreach to Trans events, working with organizations such as Trans Alliance Society and granting monies to Trans organizations through our Legacy Fund Grant.

We decided that this year, as our infrastructure is allowing us to grow, to look at hosting a Trans Pride Event. The VPS, with Director Raigen D’Angelo, founder of the Trans Alliance Society, invited members of the trans community to come to the table, including Tami Starlight. She was unable to make two different meetings and we informed her of the direction in which we were headed. The decision was made to host a BBQ Party as an opportunity to Celebrate the leaders in the Trans community on Wednesday July 27th for Trans and Friends.

The Vancouver Pride Society wants to ensure all that our door is always open and we will come to the table to address any concern from our community. We would like to consider ourselves allies of the Trans community, and are working to earn the trust of the Trans community.

Ken Coolen
President, Vancouver Pride Society
Rating: -10


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