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Trans march fills blocks of Commercial Drive with Pride

‘Just like the Dyke March, we feel we need our own march,’ says co-organizer

(The sixth annual Trans Liberation and Celebration March kicked off Pride weekend in Vancouver July 31./Jeremy Hainsworth photos)

Trans, genderqueer, two-spirit, intersex people and their allies filled two blocks of Commercial Drive July 31 as the sixth annual Trans Liberation and Celebration March kicked off Pride weekend in Vancouver under a rainbow of placards, as onlookers honked and shouted support.

A giant trans flag led the march, billowing in the evening wind.

“It’s about raising awareness for trans rights,” explains organizing committee member Josie Boyce. “Just like the Dyke March, we feel we need our own march.”

Boyce says she believes a shift is beginning around awareness of trans people and their need for legislated rights.

“The more we can show solidarity as a group, the more we will have awareness about us and our issues,” Boyce says.

She says the colourful and boisterous march is definitely political.

“We’re working together to achieve our ends,” she says. “Politics doesn’t have to be dour.”

Yukon trans man Shaun LaDue proudly carried a territorial flag.

He says the march is about promoting trans pride and challenging discrimination.

“It’s against that strong cisgender white privilege that most of us don’t experience,” he says.

Also in the crowd were gay NDP MLA Spencer Chandra Herbert and his husband Romi Chandra Herbert, who will help lead the Pride parade Aug 2 as one of three grand marshals.

Spencer Chandra Herbert introduced his fourth private member’s bill in the BC legislature on July 20 in an ongoing attempt to explicitly add gender identity and expression to the BC Human Rights Code to protect trans and gender-variant people from discrimination.

The governing BC Liberal Party maintains that transgender people are already protected under other categories of the code so gender identity doesn’t require explicit addition.

“I’m here to support transgender equality and transgender rights,” Chandra Herbert says. “Trans rights are not redundant, no matter what the government says. It’s time for a change.”

The march was organized by a gender-diverse committee independent from the Vancouver Pride Society.

The organizers targeted a number of issues they believe must change, including the denial of express protections under the law, violence, underemployment, housing insecurity, inadequate or poor delivery of medical services, and prison reform.