In 2022, there were 155 anti-trans bills introduced in the United States.
Local trans activist Caitlin Glasson initiated e-4268, a petition to extend transgender and non-binary people the right to claim asylum in Canada, by reason of eliminationist laws in their home countries.
While Canada is not seeing any similar legislation so far, targeted attacks against trans, non-binary and gender diverse people are on the rise.
Glasson’s petition had the support of Mike Morrice, Member of Parliament (MP) for Kitchener Centre of the Green Party.
The petition opened for signature Jan. 26, 2023 and will close May 26, 2023.
As of Apr. 4, the petition has 150,256 signatures.
“I thought we can probably get 500 signatures. We got that in the first few hours…And then we were at 30,000 one day and 130,000 the next day,” Glasson said.
Petition e-4268 advocates providing asylum to trans, non-binary and gender non-conforming folks who live in the U.S. and the U.K. The services and events run in KW are to ensure trans refugees have a safe place to be once they have landed in Canada.
“We, the undersigned, residents of Canada, call upon the House of Commons to extend to transgender and nonbinary people the right to claim asylum in Canada by reason of eliminationist laws in their home countries, whatever country that may be,” the petition states.
“If you think that transition would make you happy, you can do it here,” Glasson said.“It’s a place you can live. You can make a life.”
On Mar. 27, Glasson spoke at a panel called Trans in KW run by the Kitchener Public Library. Amanda Wiley, the division manager at the Country Hills Community Library and David Mason, the division manager at the Pioneer Park Community Library organized the panel.
“Seeing…the rise in hate towards trans people, we thought it’d be really important that we are creating a space that is amplifying trans voices,” Wiley said.
Outside of pride month, many members of the 2SLGBTQIA+ community do not always feel safe attending events.
The audience at Trans in KW noted that there was a lack of many queer spaces in the KW Region.
Queer and trans affirming public space was very important to many attendees.
“The programming we run can create those spaces for folks, so that there is queer and trans programming is happening throughout the entire year,” Mason said.
Wiley and Mason want the Kitchener Public Library to be a safe and gender-affirming space for trans, non-binary and gender non-conforming people.
“Previously, our strategy as activists fighting back against these things had been to fight them one by one as they popped up,” Glasson said.
“But now they were coming so fast. There wasn’t any way to arrange the usual defenses like boycotts and things like that,” she said.
Although there has been a rising number of protests against drag shows in the KW Region, the amount of community support and services remains steadfast. SPECTRUM had a booth at the “Trans in KW” event, where volunteers were able to educate attendees on what they do.
SPECTRUM offers more than 30 different groups and events each month. These include transgender peer support groups, game nights and Rainbow Newcomers Connect.
“There was nobody for a kid to look up to and say, I could live in this city and be trans and it’s okay. So, I decided that they needed somebody and since I wasn’t going to ask anybody else to do what I wouldn’t do myself. I just did it,” Glasson said.
For more information, visit petitions.ourcommons.ca.
Disclaimer: the author of this article was also a panelist at the Trans in KW event.