Crowds lined Yonge Street June 27 in a public display of support for trans people, despite fears of divisions within the community.
Two separate trans marches were scheduled to begin at the same time and follow much of the same route down Yonge Street.
Organizers of Trans March Toronto, which chose to remain unaffiliated with WorldPride over concerns of commercialization, began their march at George Hislop Park, while the official Trans* Pride March started on Church Street before heading over to the main thoroughfare. (The asterisk indicates that “trans” is an umbrella term referring to all identities within the gender-identity spectrum.)
Before the events got underway, people milled between the meeting points for the two marches, some unsure of where they were supposed to start. Others, like Dr I. Alex Abramovich, one of the honoured individuals at the Trans* Pride March, expressed discomfort with the marches being divided.
“There is so much controversy about the two marches,” Abramovich said, as he walked with the Trans* Pride March. “So it’s kind of hard as the person who is grand marshal to get involved in those politics.”
In the end, both marches, each with its own police escort, marched along Yonge Street safely, while large crowds cheered them on for long stretches of the route. Trans March Toronto led the way, a decision that Trans* Pride team leader Christin Milloy said was made out of respect.
“We respect everyone’s right to march,” she said. “I think it’s fantastic we have two trans marches.”
Nicki Ward, the organizer of Trans March Toronto, was happy that the march was a safe and positive experience. She believes that the trans community will march when it needs to march, regardless of who approves it. “Trans March belongs to trans people first, last and always,” she said.
Kevin Beaulieu, the executive director of Pride Toronto, said that ideally, everyone would march together. But he was happy with how smoothly the event went. “The energy is wonderful,” he said.
While official Trans* Pride March attendance numbers are not yet available, the impression held by many who had marched in previous trans events was that this was one of the biggest ever in Toronto.
“The growth is just unbelievable,” Milloy said. “It is really great to see all these people marching in solidarity, fighting for the same thing.”
People used the march as an opportunity to raise awareness about a range of issues, including the fight to pass Bill C-279, which would add gender identity as a prohibited ground of discrimination to the Canadian Human Rights Act.
For Monica Forrester, another honoured individual at the Trans* Pride March, the marches were an opportunity for trans people to be visible. “It’s a way of showing society that we exist,” she said.