Perspective of the Oppressor, Updated

Egale Canada has held its panel on Homophobia and Transphobia in Canadian Schools and posted more documents to its website. Another press release here. And the executive summary of the survey here.

After all the back and forth, including recent criticisms of my negative statements on Egale Canada and other organizations–criticisms that resolutely refuse to engage the facts and arguments marshaled in this blog–the study’s principle investigator and member of Egale’s Education Committee, Dr. Catherine Taylor, makes this statement in the press release

We need to take the next logical step and develop policies to tackle transphobia as well, because youth are suffering in their absence.

I’m not sure what could be a clearer expression of Egale Canada’s failure to do what it claimed–in Egale Canada’s usually ambiguous manner–and an indictment of all its spin, which I have documented, that this study was really also about trans youth and transphobia.

In the executive summary there is more than a little confusion, such as here, under Impacts where it is stated

Over a quarter of the LGBTQ students and almost half of the transgender students had skipped school because they felt unsafe, compared to less than a tenth of non-LGBTQ.

I had thought LGBTQ already included T.

This is simply one of many conceptual confusions in this summary.

This is reminiscent of Helen Kennedy’s statement in a previous press release for the survey, Egale Canada’s Executive Director

We may have human rights for LGBTQ people in Canada, but you’d never know it based on these results.

In the current controversy in Alberta, not only regarding the delisting of sex reassignment surgery, but also its human rights law, not only has sexual orientation not been formally added to Alberta’s law–a formality given the Supreme Court of Canada’s ruling a decade ago–but gender identity and gender expression are absent also. And just before the release of the budget defunding surgery, the Alberta government proposed to add sexual orientation to its law–but not gender identity or gender expression.

What is the value of a study which demonstrates such a fundamental methodological flaw that, on the one hand, separates what it calls transgender youth from gay youth, but on the other, repeatedly conflates them?

Are they the same or are they different?

Difference is the most basic building block of knowledge. Here there is clearly demonstrated conceptual confusion of identity and experience. This is the result of the ideology of required single identity.

Overall, I argue this admission by its principle investigator, with the now very open posting of the executive summary, The First National Climate Survey on Homophobia in Canadian Schools, makes it impossible to deny that Egale Canada, its Education Committee–historically unable to conceive trans people have identities and experience different from gay people, and unsympathetic to those who raise this concern–remain unable to address the concerns of transgender and transsexual people, especially youth. Even though it maintains the fiction that it does.

In its recommendations the study falls back on Gay-Straight Alliance clubs as the approach to address the concerns raised.

In a time when there is a movement for Rainbow Alliances, whose name does not explicitly exclude nor reinforce the gay-only ideology, such as this one and this one, one can only wonder why Egale Canada and its supporters maintain a blind preference for the dominance of sexual orientation and exclusion of gender identity/expression, as the Gay-Straight Alliance name so clearly does–and an inability to establish a co-equal coalition, not a policed single identity movement, based upon explicit and expressed recognition of the status, needs, embodied lives and struggles of all LGBTQ people–a co-equal message between sexual orientation, gender identity and gender expression.

This is a fundamental and, from all the evidence, invisible challenge, because even the name, Rainbow Alliance, is something that cannot be spoken or conceived.

Until this challenge is explicitly met, Dr. Taylor’s hope will remain a convenient, if sad, bait and switch.

Until the view, routinely demonstrated, that transgender and transsexual youth are nothing more than a subset of gay youth is explicitly challenged.

Why does it remain necessary for trans youth to be excluded from the name of organizations that purport to struggle with and for them? Why are trans youth required to be considered gay certainly to join in explicitly gay organizations? If these are not gay organizations, why is it impossible to conceive of an inclusive organization name? If it is not necessary for trans youth to be explicitly recognized in the organization name, why is it necessary for gay youth to be so recognized? Why the different treatment?

What foundation for future action, advocated in her statement, is conceivably made by recommending organizations that have excluding names, and apparently, excluding missions?

Why is it inconceivable for an LGBTQ organization to mount a struggle
exclusively for transgender and transsexual people? It seems quite
routine for such organizations to mount struggles exclusively
for gay and lesbian people–under a variety of names. Why is this?

The solution to transphobia does not reside in some indefinite future time, it must be started now, in the present, in the acceptance by organizations of their established, explicit policy promises. In other words, LGBTQ must mean LGBTQ, not simply and casually a politically expedient way to say gay and be backed up by action that explicitly reflects this. Not what we routinely see.

The inability even to conceive of inclusivity in the struggle for safer spaces in our schools, and equality and dignity in society at large, is part of an inability to conceive, understand and embody anti-oppression principles and practice, once a guiding light of Egale Canada, and the clear symptom of a major, systemic disorder.

And, sadly, not only in Egale Canada.

Productions such as this survey, its publicity and panel, even if less significant than the struggle for same-sex marriage, effects the same marginalization and subjugation, repudiation and erasure.

How can anyone who believes in equality and dignity for all LGBT people concur with a strategy that explicitly accepts second class status and the declaration that trans youth will have to wait for “the next logical step”?


Wait until when?


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