Transgender-rights activist Morgane Oger wants her kids to live in a society in which people’s differences are viewed as positive attributes.
The 46-year-old Kitsilano resident has a daughter and a son who are both in elementary school.
“How you get your gender is, today, basically something that’s assigned at birth, and then [if it doesn’t match your identity] you have to fight against this for your entire life if you have the wherewithal to do it,” Oger told the Georgia Straight over coffee near the rainbow crosswalks in Davie Village. “I would like them to grow up in a place where gender is who you are. It reflects who you are.”
Oger is secretary for the Trans Alliance Society and a spokesperson for the B.C. Safer Schools Coalition. Earlier this year, the information-technology consultant and marina owner helped marshal support for efforts to make Vancouver’s public schools and parks more inclusive of trans and gender-nonconforming people.
In April, the park board adopted all 77 recommendations contained in the report from its trans and gender-variant inclusion working group. Then, in June, the Vancouver school board updated its sexual orientation and gender identities policy to provide better support for trans students and staff. (Faced with a human-rights complaint, the Catholic Independent Schools of the Vancouver Archdiocese introduced a similar policy in early July.)
The debate over the school board’s policy was nearly “hijacked by this very small group of very loud conservative Christians who were claiming to speak for everyone”, Oger recalled.
“When the dissent came, the things that I was hearing were basically against people like my kids and their parents, like me, and that really doubled my conviction that it was necessary,” she said.
Oger, who was born in Rennes, France, remembers being aware of her true gender at five years old. Decades later, she came out as a woman “gradually” between 2011 and 2013.
According to Oger, her daughter has shared some “interesting” thoughts since then.
“She reasoned that it was a good thing that I waited until after she was born to declare my gender identity, so that she could be born,” Oger said. “I thought it was really sweet of a young child to see this causal link in her existence. And she sees me actually as very special, and she wishes people understood that I was special.”
In May, Oger spoke out after Clayre Sessoms was turned away by Canadian Blood Services in Vancouver because she was transgender.
Next, Oger plans to turn her attention to getting Bill C-279, which would amend the Canadian Human Rights Act to prohibit discrimination on the basis of gender identity, passed by the Senate. She noted that British Columbia’s Human Rights Code still doesn’t explicitly protect gender identity.
“The last 12 months, I think that those have been the happiest 12 months of my life,” Oger said. “All this advocacy in the face of very harsh criticism has been interesting, because it’s brought together a community. Whereas two years ago I felt there was no community that I could belong to, today there’s a strong and vibrant community where we can help each other and we can face great challenges.”