Transgender march organizer protests Vancouver Pride parade’s politics

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      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.

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      Tami Starlight

      Jul 14, 2011 at 1:04pm

      "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*


      Jul 14, 2011 at 1:38pm

      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.


      Standing Water

      Jul 14, 2011 at 2:19pm

      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.


      Jul 14, 2011 at 3:59pm

      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."


      Jul 14, 2011 at 4:31pm

      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.

      Standing Water

      Jul 14, 2011 at 4:37pm

      "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.


      Jul 15, 2011 at 5:17am

      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.....

      Kelly Worrall

      Jul 15, 2011 at 8:31am

      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.


      Jul 15, 2011 at 9:46am

      The Parade needs to be cancelled period! Why do they need a Parade?


      Jul 15, 2011 at 12:57pm

      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.