Ten-year-old Charlie Lowthian-Rickert is a trans activist and grand marshal of the 2016 Capital Pride parade in Ottawa.
From Stittsville, Ontario, Lowthian-Rickert’s activism has already garnered national attention. This interview with Daily Xtra has been edited and condensed.
Xtra first interviewed you when you spoke at the Occupotty protest in April 2015. Was that the beginning of your activism or had you been speaking out about trans rights before then?
I hadn’t been speaking out about trans rights much before then, but after I realized how important it is to speak up and speak out.
How did you react when you heard you were the parade grand marshal for Capital Pride?
At first I reacted very ecstatically. I was really excited and really happy and also my friend was over so that we could share the emotion. But, the day after I just broke down on the couch. I just started crying because it was such an honour and was so thrilling.
What was it like taking part in the tabling of Bill C-16, the federal trans rights bill?
I felt like I was doing something for the community when I was invited, but me and my mom had planned a speech if I had a chance to speak. I really wanted to do the speech and I was able to, so I was really glad. I always do anything I can to let people know and teach them about who trans, gender-fluid or agender people really are. We aren’t inhuman. We aren’t aliens. We’re human. We should be treated like we’re human.
How hopeful are you that Bill C-16 will pass in the Senate?
It’s gone through [the House of Commons] multiple times, all getting to the Senate and then stopping, but people are learning. People are getting to know who the LGBTQ community really is. It definitely has a bigger chance than last year and the years before.
When you’re at school do you feel like you have to speak up every time you hear a transphobic or homophobic comment?
Pretty much everybody at my school is LGBTQ+ accepting. I’ve never heard children or even teachers talk about LGBTQ people negatively. The only time I ever hear that is out in public, but whenever I do hear that I get really anxious for the next time I can be interviewed. Anxious in a good way.
What will you talk about at the Pride vigil?
I’ve started a speech for the Pride vigil. I have two things that I always love to say. One is that trans people aren’t aliens and they shouldn’t be treated like they are. The other thing is people who have bad things done to them might want to notify other people. For instance, right now black LGBTQ people are getting mistreated but nothing is happening about them getting mistreated. When people speak up and talk about that problem, some people might not listen but others might and those people who understand, they might go and pass on their knowledge. People will keep passing on the knowledge until we won’t have to talk about it anymore because we wouldn’t need to. The problem would be solved.
In July, Black Lives Matter Toronto stopped the Pride parade for about 30 minutes to present a list of demands including a commitment to providing space for black queer youth and the removal of uniformed police officers from the parade. What’s your reaction to concerns that Pride movements aren’t inclusive enough to people of colour?
I’m really disappointed in the people who are in the community in Pride who don’t want anything to do with black people. I’m really disappointed in them because black people are another group of people that are being mistreated and black transgender people are [much more] targeted [than] white transgender people. They need to be seen. They need to be included.