A workshop hosted by QPIRG dedicated to trans terminology and acceptance
A trans awareness workshop, organized as part of the Quebec Public Interest Group’s (QPIRG) “Disorientation Week,” took place on Sep. 20 for students and other individuals interested in gaining more knowledge on issues surrounding today’s transgender population.
Gabrielle Bouchard, peer support and trans advocacy coordinator for Concordia’s Centre for Gender Advocacy, hosted the workshop and introduced the participants to the vast world of transgender identity.
Transgender is a term used to describe a male or a female who identifies with a gender that does not correspond with the gender they were assigned at birth, she said. Bouchard added that the prefix trans- means “from one thing to another.” In the case of “transgender,” it would mean from one gender to another. As for the difference between transgender and transsexual, Bouchard explained that transsexual is a term that was first invented by medical practitioners to identify trans-individuals who had undergone a sex reassignment surgery or other medical interventions, such as hormonal replacement therapy.
Bouchard also touched on the misconceptions that exist for transgender individuals. According to Bouchard, today, many experts and medical professionals still believe that transgender people suffer from a mental illness and that “you need to be cured from it.” She provided the example of certain medical professionals at the Montreal General Hospital who still participate in “conversion therapy.” She explained that these professionals believe these “therapies” are the best solution to “cure” transgender individuals.
Bouchard said she hopes the next step in the trans conversation would be to ban “conversion therapy” for trans patients. She highlighted the importance of education and understanding since there are still people who express transphobic beliefs.
“The trans 101 workshop is hugely important because we do have trans students here at Concordia. [The Centre for Gender Advocacy] is a queer magnet for students who come to Concordia … they might have a better [chance of] acceptance for who they are than in other spaces. By giving this workshop, we are giving safer spaces for students who are part of marginalized communities,” said Bouchard.
Bouchard mentioned that not all individuals who come to the Centre for Gender Advocacy are students—many non-students who are also part of the trans community come to the centre to seek help.
Bouchard emphasized the importance of respecting a person’s chosen name and pronoun as part of their identity. “Don’t presume gender [and] don’t be a passive bystander when you see transphobic stuff around campus. Be the voice of these identities,” she said. Respecting someone’s identity is the foundation to accepting trans people. If someone prefers to be called by a different name or pronoun, Bouchard said it is important to support them. “That is the one thing that is always denied for trans people. Just respect that and you will do a world of difference.”
If you are a transgender or non-binary individual looking for support, feel free to contact the Centre for Gender Advocacy, located at 2110 MacKay street near Concordia’s downtown campus, or Queer Concordia, located at 2020 MacKay street.