Trans rights activists lead march against Bill 2

A march in solidarity with the transgender community precedes Nov. 20, the Transgender Day of Remembrance

Kicking off a weekend of events for the Transgender Day of Remembrance on Nov. 20, Aide aux Trans du Québec (ATQ) held a solidarty march for the gender plurality community of Quebec in front of the Montreal Courthouse on Nov. 19.

The march, which saw over 50 people in attendance, was held to so show support for the trans, non-binary, and gender non-conforming community, as well as to protest the proposed Bill 2. Notably, Manon Massé, one of the leaders for Québec solidaire, was present at the march.

Bill 2 would make it a requirement for people to undergo gender-affirming surgery if they want to change their assigned sex on their birth certificate. The bill would also make it so there is a new section for gender on birth certificates, with the possibility of a third non-male or female gender. Another aspect of the bill is that intersex people would have to apply for a change of designated sex as soon as possible.

“This really is a place for the whole trans community and allies to just to pour out our grievances against the Coalition Avenir Québec (CAQ) government for proposing the most transphobic bill ever introduced in Quebec and Canada,” said Celeste Trianon, a trans rights advocate at the Centre for Gender Advocacy (CGA) and a speaker at the march.

The CGA is a Concordia fee-levy group that promotes gender equality and empowerment, specifically as it relates to marginalized communities. The centre does various programming, campaigns, advocacy, and has resources and services open to Concordia and the LGBTQIA2+ community.

“[Bill 2] would lead to so much harm for trans people,” said Trianon, who explained that not all trans people would want genital surgery, and that the wait times for such a surgery could be up to five years.

They explained that without a recognized photo ID, people will struggle to apply for employment and housing.

“It’s like another coming out for people, and we don’t want that,” said Trianon.

Jason Noël, the treasurer, secretary, and event planner for ATQ, explained that the on the weekend of the Transgender Day of Remembrance, there were multiple events planned throughout the day, such as conferences and brunches.

“We are going to have a moment of silence,” said Noël, who explained that Nov. 20 is to remember the trans people that have disappeared and raise awareness of the violence against the trans community. “It’s a very special thing, I would say it is one of the most important parts of trans pride.”

“We are hoping that for the night, people will be able to forget everything that’s happening in the world right now,” said Noël, who stated that because of COVID-19 they had to delay trans pride three times, and the weekend would mark the first time since the pandemic began that the trans community of Montreal would be able to come together and party.

“We’re just gonna dedicate the dance floor to the people who are not with us anymore, who disappeared because of violence,” said Noël. “And then the next morning […] we will go to brunch and that will be super fun.”

According to Noël, multiple organizations will be going to court to try and reform the bill on Nov. 29, but it may be delayed until December or later in 2022. 

“It’s a bill that’s bringing us back like 15 years,” said Noël, who criticized Canada and Quebec for appearing to be supportive of trans rights while allowing this bill to be proposed.

According to an article by the CBC, this bill is being presented as a victory for transgender people by the Quebec government, but could actually put trans people in a dangerous situation by outing them every time they show their ID.

“Get involved, be at protests, denounce the CAQ, hold your friends and entourage to do the same.” said Trianon. “We need more people to speak out against this bill.”


Photograph by Catherine Reynolds


The trans community strongly responds to oppose Bill 2

Concordia University Television (CUTV) hosts trans-advocate Celeste Trianon to speak on Bill 2

The Quebec National Assembly tabled Bill 2 on Thursday, Oct. 21, which has been cited as one of the most regressive trans-rights bills in Quebec’s history. Bill 2 would see that only transgender people who undergo gender-affirming surgery can successfully request an official sex change on their birth certificate.

The inability to represent yourself legally as the gender with which you identify is extremely limiting for trans people. Simple tasks like preparing a CV or cashing a cheque with your preferred name become much harder.

Under the new bill gender reaffirming surgery will be required for anyone to change their sex on legal documents, a surgery that results in infertility. The policy effectively forces sterilization upon anyone who wants to be legally recognized by the gender with which they identify on their legal documents. It would also forcibly out trans people and strip them of safety.

The trans community and advocates throughout the province have responded en masse to the discriminatory policy proposed by Justice Minister Simon Jolin-Barrette.

Concordia University Television (CUTV) held a press conference in conjunction with the premiere of their new documentary on trans rights in Quebec, featuring trans-rights activist Celeste Trianon, an educator at the Centre for Gender Advocacy.

“Let’s just say this bill is an enormous regression and the most transphobic bill of not just Quebec but Canada as a whole. It is truly the most regressive bill in the entire country,” said Trianon.

The regressive nature of Bill 2 has led to many pointing out the province’s failure to address gender issues compared to other provinces, but this has not always been the case.

“Actually Quebec once upon a time was ahead, the ability for trans people to change their gender marker was first introduced in 1978, albeit with lots of requirements, of course. And trans people have been protected from discrimination on the basis of sex since 1998. So there have been lots of advances both at the legal and judicial levels a long time ago, but in recent years Quebec has really fallen behind,” said Trianon.

The Quebec government wants to make up for the loss of the ability for trans people to legally change their documents with the addition of a new gender identity marker.

“This gender identity marker is separate from the sex designation and will effectively serve as a way to separate trans people from their cisgender counterparts. By separating [them], this makes trans people extremely vulnerable, extremely seen,” said Trianon.

“Fighting for trans rights is broader trans inclusion in society which necessarily involves not being as visibly trans, but this trans identity marker will make them extremely visible.”

The response to Bill 2 has been “overwhelmingly and unanimously negative” from the trans community, according to Trianon. Protests have already taken place and a legally-binding petition was filed by Trianon on Oct. 26 in order to give Quebec citizens and residents a clear pathway to participate in the legal system in the fight against Bill 2. Efforts have been made to contact lawmakers by phone and email to make them aware of the transphobic nature of the bill. Quebec Solidaire works closely with the Centre for Gender Advocacy and has opposed the bill along with some Quebec liberals.

When it comes to other levels of government within Canada, Trianon said “There have been a lot of informal responses, but there hasn’t been anything official yet. But the trans community can only hope that there is official involvement.”

In the meantime, there is still hope for those who want to fight against Bill 2.

“There are so many things you can do. A few things that have happened already are grassroots activism. Protests have been planned as little as three or four days after the bill was introduced […] You can always join in with them. Additionally, you can always donate funds to organizations fighting for trans rights.”

Some popular organizations which take donations are Project 10, Gris Montreal and the Montreal LGBTQ+ community centre.

“You can sign the legally-binding petition as soon as it is made available. You can also call your lawmakers to tell them directly this bill is wrong, tell them we won’t accept transphobia and interphobia in modern 21st-century society,” said Trianon.

You can learn more about the fight against gender oppression at the Centre for Gender Advocacy’s web page, and watch CUTV’s documentary on the evolution of trans rights here.


Photograph by Evan Lindsay


Quebec raises cannabis consumption age, but will minors quit kush?

Despite the government’s intentions, raising the legal marijuana smoking age may not be as efficient as thought.

The Quebec government passed a law to raise the legal smoking age of marijuana from 18 to 21 in December 2019. Since January 2020, no one under the age of 21 is able to purchase, possess or smoke pot.

The law was introduced in Bill 2, which was sponsored by Minister of Health Lionel Carmant.

As an ex-pediatric neurologist, Carmant’s concerns for the youth-led to his introduction of this legislation. Research done by the Canadian government shows that smoking marijuana before the brain matures has consequences, as it negatively impacts the development of the prefrontal cortex. The prefrontal cortex controls things like memory, learning, making decisions and judgment. In an email exchange with the Concordian, Carmant said the increased likelihood of getting stimulation psychosis, which can occur from consuming too much cannabis in minors.Carmant hopes to give a “clear message” to teens and young adults. According to him, “cannabis is a harmful substance” that should be avoided.

“We will not compromise the safety of the youth because of an illegal market,” Carmant  said.

Louie, a Montreal drug dealer who is using an alias, started selling weed as a first year university student. Due to “shitty” residence food and not having enough money to buy better food regularly, Louie began to sell weed.

While he does not know where his weed comes from, Louie is confident in the reliability and safety of black market bud. However, buyers have to be smart about it, and be wary of prices. “If you’re getting five dollars a gram or something from some sketch motherf*cker, then you’re probably getting some synthetic shit,” he said. Louie sells a gram of weed for $10, and his customers’ ages range from 17 to 30.

Contrary to Louie, social worker Lindsay Faul sees some danger in black market weed and underage weed consumption itself. She cites brain development and the quality of black market weed as concerns related to underage smokers in Montréal.

Weed can be risky for consumers; one of the risks is the uncertainty regarding the amount of THC in illegal weed. According to the Canadian Government’s website, higher amounts of THC can heighten or prolong effects of confusion or anxiety.

Quebec is now the only province that has a higher age limit to purchase cannabis than tobacco or alcohol. Faul does not agree with the decision to have varying legal purchasing age. “I believe that all three of these substances should be treated the same,” Faul said. “Either make all three legal at 18 or all three legal at 21.”

Faul continued by explaining the difference between the dangers of tobacco, weed, and alcohol. While all three have setbacks, “tobacco and cannabis are similar in the sense that they typically cause the most harm to our respiratory system,” she said. But cannabis is less dangerous when it is ingested in other forms. “Alcohol, on the other hand, negatively impacts all the systems in the body,” she added.

Both long-term drinking and heavy drinking can lead to many types of diseases, and can cause damage to organs like the heart, pancreas and liver. While tobacco and cannabis both negatively impact the respiratory system, tobacco affects much more of the body. A diagram by the Canadian Cancer Society shows that tobacco smokers have a higher chance of developing cancers in the mouth, lungs, liver, bladder, and more. Tobacco consumption, while dangerous, is also easy to avoid. The Canadian Cancer Society writes that tobacco is “the number one cause of preventable disease and death in Canada.” Secondhand smoke from tobacco is also dangerous. According to the Canadian Cancer Society, second hand smoke inhalation increases the likelihood of getting lung disease, a heart attack, and stroke. body, and nicotine––what gives users their high––is very addictive.

More research needs to be done to learn about the correlation between smoking cannabis and developing cancer. However, the Canadian Cancer Society writes that some cancer patients use medical marijuana to relieve symptoms such as nausea, vomiting, loss of appetite, and pain.

The International Agency for Research on Cancer lists both alcoholic beverages and all kinds of tobacco exposure in its list of carcinogenic substances to humans.

So how will the Quebec government restrict these dangers from the youth? According to Carmant, the battle against underage tobacco smoking and alcohol consumption is one that society has been fighting for “decades.”

Carmant also said his government will focus on keeping weed out of the hands of youth. “We now have the opportunity to strengthen laws that will prevent illegal cannabis sales in five or 10 years,” he said. “We strongly believe that Quebecers must be made aware of the effects of this substance–especially young people.”


Photo by Jad Abukasm

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