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Community members want change for Trans Pride

Autonomy from both Pride Toronto and sponsors are key issues

Credit: Becca Lemire/Daily Xtra

Change is needed — this was the resounding sentiment that came out of a Trans Pride community meeting on Oct 9, 2015. Members rallied behind the idea that Trans Pride needs to be independent of Pride Toronto.

Roughly 40 people attended the meeting at the Toronto Public Library Parliament Branch, and a majority of them showed support for the idea that Pride Toronto should no longer run the Trans Pride march and rally. The well received alternative was that Trans Pride events should be “for and by the community.”

Community members largely agreed that Pride Toronto had done a good job running the Trans Pride Community Fair and Space, and that the organization should continue to direct its efforts there. Despite a few dissenting voices, the idea of the trans community planning and running their own march and rally was largely welcome.

When asked if Pride Toronto would consider the trans community running its own march, executive director Mathieu Chantelois told Daily Xtra in an email statement that “all options are on the table . . . we want to truly listen and understand that such a process takes time.”

Beyond being a part of Pride Toronto, other members of the trans community were opposed to the commercialization of the march and rally. Several members expressed that the events shouldn’t be about money, and that one sponsor in particular is problematic – TD Bank.

Daily Xtra reported in 2014 that a TD Bank employee shut out a Toronto trans woman from her bank accounts and credit card because her voice “wasn’t completely perfect.”

Along with TD, some suggested Pride Toronto should also veto beer companies as sponsors, due to the history of alcohol abuse within the community. Demanding better police training on how to interact with trans individuals during Pride events was also raised.

During the meeting, others suggested that the group should disallow allies at future Trans Pride meetings and allow only trans individuals.

The meeting, however, was not without tension between community members. One person left toward the end of the evening, claiming the environment was “anti-white.”

“Centring trans people of colour does not mean ‘anti-white’,” commented Afi Browne, the meeting’s facilitator.

The incident reinforced an earlier request for “less infighting,” which has been an ongoing problem. “That definitely comes because we feel very strongly in our views,” Browne says.

What remains to be decided during future meetings is the date of the march and rally — and if Trans Pride will remain in the hands of Pride Toronto.