Racialized trans and non-binary people in Canada face higher levels of discrimination, fear of police: report

New insights from a national survey of transgender and non-binary people in Canada suggest that trans people of colour face more harassment, with almost three quarters reporting they fear harassment or scrutiny from police forces simply because of who they are.

Forty-five per cent reported having been harassed at some point at work or at school.

In 2019, Trans PULSE Canada conducted a survey of 2,873 trans and non-binary people across Canada. The report released this week represents the second analysis of the data collected in that survey, focusing on racialized trans and non-binary people.

The report specifies that they used the term “racialized” to include “people and communities that experience racism.”

“Racialization can be conceptualized as ‘the process by which societies construct races as real, different and unequal in ways that matter to economic, political and social life,’” the paper stated, quoting the Ontario Human Rights Commission. The report clarified that their count of racialized trans and non-binary people includes those who identified as a person of colour as well as those who indicated on the survey that they were perceived as a person of colour.

Out of the 2,873 respondents who took the survey in 2019, 14 per cent identified as racialized — a little over 400 people. The authors pointed out that barriers to accessing the survey or the possibility that many did not know about its existence mean that this cannot be taken as a true reflection of what percentage of trans and non-binary people are racialized.

Trans PULSE Canada’s first analysis of this data, released in March, focused on how survey respondents reported having healthcare needs unmet.

While racialized and non-racialized respondents reported similar levels of mental health and issues getting health care, there were some marked differences.

One in four trans and non-binary people of colour said they were disabled or living with a disability, compared to 18 per cent of non-racialized trans and non-binary people.

When it came to being the target of violence or harassment, racialized trans and non-binary people were more likely to receive all forms of violence and harassment, reporting at least four per cent more than non-racialized respondents.

That gap widened depending on what type of violence or harassment the survey specified.

Half of racialized respondents had been the target of sexual harassment, compared to 42 per cent of non-racialized respondents.

And a third of trans and non-binary people of colour reported having been sexually assaulted within the last five years, compared to a quarter of non-racialized trans people.

Trans people of colour were also eight per cent more likely to avoid religious institutions out of fear of harassment or being outed than non-racialized trans people.

One of the most significant differences between racialized and non-racialized respondents came when respondents were asked if they experienced worries about being stopped or harassed by police or security.

Although it was high across the board — half of non-racialized trans or non-binary people said they did worry about police harassment — 73 per cent of racialized respondents answered that they feared police harassment.

On top of that, only 19 per cent of racialized respondents anticipated getting fair treatment from the police if they reported a physical assault, while a third of non-racialized respondents felt that they’d be treated fairly. The trust level dropped if respondents were asked about reporting a sexual assault, with only one in 10 of racialized respondents anticipating fair treatment.

Feeling unable to trust the police can have direct ramifications for wellbeing and health. A quarter of trans people of colour said they had specifically avoided calling 911 for emergency medical services within the last five years.

Researchers said this was the first quantitative, all-ages data that has been compiled on racialized trans and non-binary people within Canada, and that the results highlight how racialized members of the trans community face high levels of discrimination, violence and “anticipated and actual negative experiences with police and the legal system.”

As with racialized people in the general Canadian population, racialized trans and non-binary people experienced profound levels of discrimination compared to their non-racialized peers,” the study stated.

One racialized participant of the survey, who was not identified in the paper, was quoted as saying they are “hoping this [study] will shape change to uphold the full humanities of trans femmes and trans women … I see white, trans femmes experience life with so many more options for their survival than those of us who are racialized.” 

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Vitrix ludorum – The battle over trans athletes in American schools heats up | United States

ESMEE SILVERMAN feels unusually nervous about the prospect of trying out for her high-school girls’ tennis team this autumn. That is not surprising: last year, she played for the boys’ team. For the past ten months the 18-year-old has been taking a combination of oestrogen and testosterone blockers as she transitions to becoming a woman. “It’s a big emotional shift going from one team to another,” she says, adding that she expects it to be made easier by the kindness she has been shown by girls her age.

Ms Silverman is fortunate to live in Massachusetts, where transgender students can play sports as the gender with which they identify. Policies on this vary from state to state. While more than a dozen have introduced guidelines like those in Massachusetts, which also allow trans students to shower and change with members of their chosen gender, 11 states have policies that prevent this. Some say birth certificates are the final arbiters of sex; others, that transgender students must first have had gender reassignment surgery (which is generally restricted to over-18-year-olds). As an increasing number of teenagers reject the sex they are born with, these clashing approaches are sparking court cases.

In Idaho, the American Civil Liberties Union is battling a statewide law that bans transgender women and girls from female sports teams. They are representing Lindsay Hecox, a transgender woman who was denied a chance to join the women’s cross-country team at Boise State University. Last month, a federal judge issued a temporary injunction on that law.

In Connecticut, three female high-school athletes are challenging the policy of the state’s interscholastic athletic conference, which allows transgender girls to compete against females. They argue that it violates Title IX, a law passed to protect equal educational opportunities for the sexes, including in sports. In March the civil-rights division of the Department of Education said it did violate Title IX.

These cases highlight the often irreconcilable nature of transgender rights and women’s rights. Those opposed to the inclusion of transgender women in women’s sports argue that it is unfair to allow people who have gone through puberty as men, and who tend to be bigger, stronger and faster, to compete against women.

Connecticut offers a vivid example of this. Since 2017 two transgender athletes—biological males who identify as women—have between them won 15 state championships that were once held by nine different girls. When they started racing as girls they had not begun hormone treatment. But research suggests that even those who have gone through testosterone suppression retain advantages of strength and muscle mass. “It is so demoralising, running for second place,” says 16-year-old Alanna Smith, a highly competitive sprinter and one of the girls challenging the state policy. “I worry that women are going to become spectators of their own sports.” Transgender boys, meanwhile, often attest that it becomes easier to compete against males once they have had “top surgery” (a mastectomy) and taken testosterone.

Yet transgender activists argue that the law should regard transgender men and women as members of the gender with which they identify. They say it is discriminatory to exclude transgender women from women’s sports as well as deeply hurtful, especially for those at school. “This debate frames these high-schoolers as Olympians,” says A.T. Furuya, the youth programmes manager at GLSEN, which campaigns for the rights of LGBT school students. Furuya, a former high-school sports coach and one of a handful of people in America to have obtained “non-binary” as their legally designated gender, adds that “These are kids who just want to play.”

American exceptionalism

A similar debate is raging across the rich world. World Rugby, which currently follows the International Olympic Committee guidelines that allow transgender athletes to compete in women’s events if their testosterone levels are below a certain level, is considering banning trans women from the women’s game. That is partly because of fears that transgender women players could injure their teammates.

Strikingly absent from the discussion in America are women’s groups standing on the women’s side of the issue. Instead, many long-established women’s groups have aligned themselves with the transgender movement. “Transgender girls are girls and transgender women are women,” reads a statement from several rights groups in Connecticut, including the state chapter of Planned Parenthood. “They are not and should not be referred to as boys or men, biological or otherwise”.

Doriane Coleman, a law professor at Duke University, observes that it is “extremely difficult” to get the support of any civil-rights group for an agenda that does not include trans women in its definition of women. That is why the female athletes in both Connecticut and Idaho are represented by the same conservative Christian organisation, the Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF). (Ms Coleman points out that the ADF also has first-class lawyers.) In Britain, by contrast, the battle to preserve women’s spaces, from lavatories to prisons, is largely being fought by feminists.

The fact that progressives appear to have largely ceded this issue to conservatives reflects the way such issues have become polarised in America. In many countries, those who suggest that the law should not regard trans women as women in all respects are denounced as transphobic; in America, such attacks are particularly aggressive. Though polls suggest that a majority of Americans believe that trans women should not play in women’s sports teams, this is a view that is rarely heard publicly.

“Our discussion about this topic is insane—you can’t talk about it at all,” says Natasha Chart, a board member of Women’s Liberation Front, which describes itself as a “radical feminist organisation”. “You face so much social opprobrium for speaking out that people don’t want to touch it.”

How will the courts adjudicate? A landmark ruling on LGBT rights by the Supreme Court may offer a clue. In June, America’s highest court ruled in Bostock v Clayton County that gay, lesbian and transgender people were protected under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, which bars discrimination in employment because of sex. That has raised the question of whether this reasoning could also be applied to Title IX.

Several lower courts have suggested it could. In August the judge who issued a temporary injunction on Idaho’s ban on trans athletes in women’s teams, cited Bostock. The same month, a federal appeals court ruled that school policies that forbid transgender students to use the lavatory of their gender identity violate the law. That judge said Bostock had guided his evaluation of claims under Title IX, because Congress had intended it and Title VII to be interpreted similarly.

Yet in Bostock, the Supreme Court explicitly said it was ruling only on discrimination in employment; it was not attempting to address “bathrooms, locker rooms, or anything else of the kind”. This qualification suggested that the justices expect to consider such questions in the future. However the courts in Connecticut and Idaho rule, the issue seems likely to end up at the Supreme Court.

This article appeared in the United States section of the print edition under the headline “Vitrix ludorum”

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Supreme Court to decide whether to allow First Nations’ challenge against Trans Mountain pipeline

The Supreme Court of Canada is expected to announce Thursday whether it will allow an appeal from a group of First Nations in B.C. looking to challenge the federal government’s second approval of the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion project.

The Squamish Nation, Tsleil-Waututh Nation, Ts’elxweyeqw Tribes and Coldwater Indian Band are seeking leave to appeal a February decision by the Federal Court of Appeal that found cabinet’s approval of the pipeline project in June 2019 was reasonable under the law.

The top court is set to issue its decision at 9:45 a.m. ET on Thursday. The court will not give reasons for its choice, as is custom.

Tsleil-Waututh Chief Leah George-Wilson and Syeta’xtn (Chris Lewis) of the Squamish Nation will be hosting a virtual news conference after the top court issues its decision.

In a video news conference in April, Tsleil-Waututh and Squamish leaders said they were challenging the adequacy of Indigenous consultation leading up to the second approval of the project.

George-Wilson said the Appeal Court’s decision earlier this year represented a setback for reconciliation.

“If unchallenged, it could change the way consultation and consultation cases happen in Canada, making it less meaningful for protecting our inherent constitutionally protected Aboriginal rights,” George-Wilson said.

The decision relied on a finding that cabinet’s determination of its own consultation process was adequate, and the First Nations argue the decision should have been made at arm’s length, she said.

Chief Leah George-Wilson of the Tsleil-Waututh Nation at a press conference challenging the re-approval of the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion in Vancouver on Dec. 16, 2019. (Ben Nelms/CBC)

“Cabinet is not an expert in consultation and as owners of the project, they were unable to objectively assess the adequacy of their own consultation,” George-Wilson said.

The Federal Court of Appeal overturned cabinet’s first approval of the pipeline expansion in 2018, citing insufficient consultation with Indigenous people and a failure to take into account the affect on marine animals.

After another round of consultations and a second look at how marine life would be affected, cabinet gave the project a green light.

In March, the Supreme Court of Canada decided not to hear five challenges from environment and Indigenous groups from British Columbia, which included the Tsleil-Waututh and the Squamish First Nations.

Some of those groups challenged a Federal Court of Appeal decision in February not to hear their request to consider whether there had been sufficient consultation.

Coldwater Indian Band Chief T. Lee Spahan speaks to media after the Federal Court of Appeal’s decision to dismiss an appeal by multiple First Nations on Feb. 4. (Ben Nelms/CBC)

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Lea Michele ‘mocked trans model Plastic Martyr for using women’s bathroom at the Emmys’

Transgender model Plastic Martyr has spoken on a horrible encounter with Glee star Lea Michele at the 2010 Emmys.

Lea, best known for playing Rachel Berry on the hit show, is facing a number of accusations of racist behaviour and bullying after she Tweeted a message of support for George Floyd and the Black Lives Matter movement over the weekend.

The 33-year-old’s message sparked fury with a number of her former her colleagues and other stars – prompting them to come forward to reveal their own terrible experiences with the former Broadway star.

Now, Plastic has reflected on the nasty moment when Lea left her “feeling like a circus freak” after she mocked her using the women’s toilets at the prestigious TV event ten-years-ago.

Transgender model Plastic Martyr has spoken on a horrible encounter with Glee star Lea Michele at the 2010 Emmys

Plastic explained that she was using the WC and when she went to use the sink “mean girl” Lea stood there and blocked her as she tried to reach some soap or hand towels.

“I was just trying to get out of there.

“I said, ‘Excuse me,’ and she’s standing there blocking my reach.

“She goes, ‘Excuse me?’ and she looks at her friends, looks at me again, and says, ‘Excuse you, you’re in the woman’s bathroom.'”

She claimed: “I was in the bathroom, I don’t know her at all, I just recognized her, and I’m washing my hands and I went to reach for the soap or the paper towels.

Lea left her “feeling like a circus freak” after she mocked her using the women’s toilets at the prestigious TV event

The model shared that other women using the facilities were made to feel uncomfortable by Lea’s nasty words and that she went from “feeling on cloud nine to feeling like a circus freak.”

Plastic added, during a chat with The Sun, that she was mid-transition – which she said Lea would have noticed, as she shared: “I was passable, but not as passable. I hadn’t had any surgery yet and was still undergoing laser treatment. She knew.”

Plastic’s accusations come after Lea enraged a number of her former co-workers when she took to Twitter on Saturday to pen: “George Floyd did not deserve this. This was not an isolated incident and it must end. #BlackLivesMatter.”

Her former Glee co-star Samantha Marie Ware was the first person to call out Lea for her own behaviour and accused her of hypocrisy.

Samantha, who starred in 11 episodes of Glee in 2015, playing a character named Jane Hayward, hit out at Lea on Monday to blast the actress for unkind behaviour – and claims she was almost driven out of Hollywood herself due to the abuse she claims she suffered.

Plastic was mid-transition when the incident happened

Replying on Twitter, Samantha, 28, wrote: “Remember when you made my first television gig a living hell?!?! Cause I’ll never forget.

“I believe you told everyone that if you had the opportunity you would ‘s*** in my wig!’ amongst other traumatic microaggressions. That made me question a career in Hollywood…”

Following the backlash Lea, who has since been dropped as the face of Hello Fresh in wake of the Tweets, addressed the allegations on Wednesday and apologised to Samantha.

She wrote: “While I don’t remember ever making this specific statement and I have never judged others by their background or colour of their skin, that’s not really the point.

“What matters is that I clearly acted in ways which hurt other people. Whether it was my privileged position and perspective that caused me to be perceived as insensitive or inappropriate at times…

Plastic says she went from “feeling on cloud nine to feeling like a circus freak” after Lea mocked her

This week a number of Glee stars have taken to the social media to share the horrible encounters they experienced with Lea

“Or whether it was just my immaturity and me just being unnecessarily difficult, I apologise for my behaviour and for any pain which I have caused.

“We can all grow and change and I have definitely used these past several months to reflect on my own shortcomings.”

Following this a number of other Glee stars took to the social media site to share the horrible encounters they experienced with Lea.

Among the stars claiming Lea is unpleasant and rude are Dabier Snell, Alex Newell, Heather Morris and Gerard Canonico.

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