Monday, June 24, 2024

‘We will not be intimidated’: Protest against Cowichan anti-trans event planned for this weekend


Under the guise of women’s and children’s safety, an event that is being decried as transphobic will take place at Cowichan Community Centre this weekend, that is vehemently opposed to non-binary gender expression and the trans community. 

The event, titled ‘Pushing Pride: When activism conflicts with women’s rights, gay rights, and the safeguarding of kids’ will feature a handful of panellists known for their outspoken transphobic views.

In the event description, the organizers claim that trans activism has been a detriment to the ongoing push for gay and lesbian rights and visibility, as well as women’s safety. 

“Lesbians are being told they must accept men as potential partners; kids are being taught that boys can be girls and girls can be boys; we are seeing adult entertainment offered to kids in the form of Drag Queen Story Hours and more; and women’s safety, interests, and rights have been pushed entirely to the wayside,” wrote the event’s organizers.  

“We all want to support equal rights, safety, and acceptance for gay men and lesbians, but adding the ‘T’ to the rainbow has created a conflict of interest and potential harm for women and kids.”

The panellists at this event include Meghan Murphy and Bryony Dixon. 

Dixon has been let go from her position with the Nanaimo Fringe Festival for her views on gender identity, while Murphy is a podcast host, a writer and has spoken out against Bill C-16 in the Canadian Senate regarding her opposition to gender identity affirming policies. 

This event was intended to take place around a year ago, but the Cowichan Valley Regional District (CVRD), who runs the Cowichan Community Centre where this event is to be held, cancelled the booking.

Murphy posted to X on Tuesday, June 4th that through her legal team, the booking had been secured and this event is going to take place on Saturday, June 8th. 

Originally, the show was cancelled because of community pushback with numerous community members saying the event made them feel unsafe. 

Victoria Buzz reached out to the CVRD to ask why the event was allowed to take place and what transpired between the District and the legal team pushing for the event to happen. 

The District replied with the following statement:

“The CVRD is committed to providing services and public spaces that are welcoming, respectful and accepting,” a District spokesperson wrote.  

“In support of this, the CVRD is working to update its policies regarding use of public spaces and facility rentals, which includes a new potential Respectful Spaces Bylaw that the public can provide input on through a survey on the CVRD’s Plan Your Cowichan website.” 

“The CVRD fully acknowledges the right to freedom of expression as well as rigorous diverse public discussion. We work with all organizers to ensure event activities meet organizational expectations and that necessary plans and procedures are in place.”

‘Uplifting Queer Joy’ protest of the event

Now, because the event will be going forward, a protest is being planned to take place at the Cowichan Community Centre for those who want to speak up in favour of trans rights and visibility. 

‘Protest Party: Uplifting Queer Joy and Community Care in Cowichan Valley’, is being planned and organized by a grassroots group called Revolve Cowichan, whose mission it is to uplift the Cowichan community and stand up against hatred, bigotry and discrimination. 

Revolve says the protest is intended to show the organizers of the event that the 2SLGBTQIA+ community rejects the hateful and deceiving messaging that this event is using to delegitimize transgender and gender non-conforming people.

“We stand strong in community, showing that we will not be intimidated in the face of hate and fascism,” they wrote in the protest’s Facebook page description.  

“We stand up for 2SLGBTQIA+ people, especially youth, who are continually harmed by hateful rhetoric and attempts at clawing back their basic fundamental rights.”

Revolve says that the “feminist” panel is being branded as one that is concerned for women’s rights while disregarding trans women’s rights. 

“Making the world safer for trans people does not make it less safe for women,” they wrote. 

Revolve says the protest will be a peaceful one aimed at uplifting joy, as that is the opposite agenda that the “harmful, homophobic and transphobic rhetoric” that the Cowichan Community Centre’s event is pushing.  

The organizers of this protest ask that those planning on attending bring with them: water, a mask, protest art, mutual aid donations and a friend. 

Impact of events like these on trans and two-spirit youth

A youth trauma counsellor who wishes to remain anonymous, brought this story to the attention of Victoria Buzz because they see first hand how trans, two-spirit and gender non-conforming people are impacted by events such as Pushing Pride. 

“It impacts [the 2SLGBTQIA+] community in terms of safety and inclusion, especially during a monthlike Pride, which is supposed to be about a celebration of love and authenticity,” the counsellor explained. 

They noted that this event is spreading dangerous misconceptions about what is dangerous for children.

“It’s just so rooted in fear and discrimination and not based on the reality of what puts kids in danger of being targeted and victimized,” they explained. 

Specifically they said that spaces where shame and violence prosper and there is no room for education and learning is what is truly dangerous. 

Through their work they see and hear from youth who feel ashamed to be their true authentic selves, which the councillor said is a true shame. 

“It’s so harmful and so detrimental to their development,” they concluded. 

The protest will be taking place on Saturday, June 8th, same as the ‘Pushing Pride’ event, at Cowichan Community Centre. The event being protested is slated to take place from 6 p.m. to 8:30 p.m.

Curtis Blandy

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