From seeking visibility to vengeance

Hundreds of pro-trans protesters marched against the CAQ’s comité des sages on the Trans Day of Vengeance on March 31. Photo by Matthew Daldalian / The Concordian

Several hundred protesters marched through the gay village in criticism of the “committee of wisemen” on Trans Day of Visibility

At 2:00 p.m. on March 31, over 200 protesters gathered at 600 Rue Fullum, near Pied-du-Courant park. After half-an-hour, speakers gathered on a small hill to do a land acknowledgement, direct attendees to those with first aid training, and speak to the reasons the protest was organized before beginning the march.

March 31 is often celebrated as Trans Day of Visibility, and the protest was described as “Trans Day of Vengeance: for an end to state-sponsored anti-trans hate.” Last fall, the Coalition Avenir Québec (CAQ) announced the creation of the comité des sages or the committee of wisemen, which is a group created with the aim to provide guidance on creating trans policy and legislation. In January, several trans organizations and activists came together to form ‘Nous ne serons pas sages,’ [We will not be wise] a coalition for the dissolution of the committee of wisemen.

The lack of trans people on a committee designed to make legislation decisions that directly affect trans people is a common criticism faced by the comité des sages

“I think the government is playing a very dangerous game,” said Zael, an activist involved with the coalition who wished to not give a last name.

“Our hope is that [the general population] will [see that] this is not acceptable; you cannot build political momentum on a marginalized community,” she said.

Clara, a queer student who wished to refrain from giving a last name, chimed in. “[The committee members] are getting people who have nothing to do with the community to make judgments about something they know nothing about,” she said.

Simon Etien, a father of two who was attending the protest with his family, also expressed dissatisfaction with the existence of the committee. “I don’t think it’s just for a government to impose boundaries on what kind of medical treatment or psychological treatment should be right for a child or teenager,” Etien said.

He also criticized the idea of “parents’ rights.” “As a parent, there are a lot of people who are talking about the ‘parents’ rights.’ As a parent, I don’t feel we have rights. We have the honour ‘de devoir,’ the obligations toward our child,” Etien said.

The group of protesters, now closer to 350 people, began marching southwest on Boulevard René-Levesque at 2:30 p.m. before stopping in front of the CBC-Radio Canada building. Numerous police officers were standing outside and police tape had been placed around entrances on both Papineau street and Boulevard René-Levesque. 

The group marched around the building before gathering on the corner of René Lévesque and Alexandre-DeSève street, where a few people spoke to the impact of anti-trans legislation. Protesters were then directed to continue marching along the boulevard, where they then turned north on Alexandre-DeSève before turning west onto St. Catharine street. The group then turned south on Berri, continuing before turning west on René-Levesque.

The march finished with a few final speeches at the Place des Festivals plaza at 4:45 p.m.
In addition to calling for the dissolution of the comité des sages, the protest was a celebration of the yearly day of visibility and an opportunity to combat rising anti-trans sentiments. “The trans agenda is an average life expectancy, merci beaucoup, thank you so much!” said activist Celeste Trianon, ending the final speech of the protest.

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