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For the first time, Pride Toronto raises trans and Pride flags at city hall

Pride Toronto promises to take trans community ‘more seriously’

Trans activist Susan Gapka raises her fist in celebration during the flag raisings at city hall on May 31, 2016.

Credit: Arshy Mann/Daily Xtra

Toronto’s first ever Pride Month had a dual flag raising at Toronto City Hall.

Over a hundred people gathered on May 31, 2016, at city hall. The trans flag was raised on Queen Street, simultaneously with the Pride flag.

Mayor John Tory said the dual flag raisings symbolized the “undivided support for this community, for their rights, for their struggles, for recognition and for respect.”

Pride Toronto’s executive director Mathieu Chantelois made note of Pride’s difficult relationship with the trans community in the past during his remarks to the crowd, “We need to take you more seriously and this year Pride Toronto will do it,” he said. “As we raise the trans flag today I wanna tell you that we can see you, we stand by you, we support you, we will fight for you and we love you.”

Rachel Clark, part of Pride Toronto’s board of directors,  says raising the trans flag was an important step for Pride Toronto. “We wanted to make sure that we have a trans person on every single human rights panel that we’re having so we do. For the first time we’re having a two-spirited pow wow on Canada Day,” she says. She also notes that this year’s Pride will include more trans-inclusive programming than in previous years.

But many trans community members still feel uneasy, especially regarding the flag raising. Abuzar Chaudhary, a trans activist, says that the trans flag raising was a surprise to many because there was no community consultation surrounding it. Chaudhary also says that many activists remain uncomfortable with Pride Toronto’s efforts.

Clark, for her part, calls dissention and protest “healthy,” and says it keeps the board in check.

“Every year we can do better,” she says.