Letter: Regarding "Trudeau marches in gay pride parade" column in July 19 Sounder

Tuesday, July 26 2016

I’m a pansexual transgender person and I think Jane Reddington’s recent opinion piece is basically a well-intentioned disaster.

Let’s start with the headline: “Trudeau marches in gay pride parade.” Excuse me, gay pride parade? No. Trudeau did not march in a gay pride parade. The event is called the Toronto Pride Parade, something a quick internet search would’ve revealed. 

This is more than a quibble; the organizers of the event eliminated the word “gay” for a reason. “Gay” excludes people who are bisexual, pansexual, asexual, pomosexual, multisexual, intersex, two-spirit, polyamorous, genderqueer, and transgender (etc!). 

If you want to be inclusive, “queer” is the only word I know that actually includes all of us, while “LGBT” only includes people who are lesbian, gay, bisexual, and/or transgender.

And wow, speaking of transgender people, the author’s treatment of transgender people is totally offensive. In regards to a documentary about transgender youth, Jane Reddington writes, “...there were four girls; one of them had begun the process [of transitioning]. I couldn’t tell which girl it was.” I don’t fully understand why the author chose to include this particular anecdote, but it creeps me the hell out. It tells me that the author was speculating on the state of these girls’ genitals and judging their bodies. This kind of scrutiny is invasive and dehumanizing. It reinforces the “pass or fail” phenomenon, wherein trans folks who appear cisgender (non-transgender) are said to pass. As in, “you get human rights and a gold star sticker because you don’t look like a trans person! A+ for you!” There is no good reason for a cisgender person to voice their unsolicited opinion about a transgender person’s body and there is no polite way to do it.

And then there’s Jane Reddington’s failure to even mention the role Black Lives Matter played in Toronto’s pride parade. For those who don’t know, the Toronto chapter of Black Lives Matter blocked the pride parade for half an hour, demanding the event organizers agree to ban police floats from future pride parades. Given how many black people are murdered or threatened by police, this just makes sense. Meanwhile, the author gets excited about a cisgender, heterosexual, white man marching in a queer pride parade, but she doesn’t write a word about black queer people who don’t want to get shot by police at the parade. I think the author’s failure to mention this racism at the core of the modern queer movement illustrates the problem; white queer people focus on “queer stuff” while queer people of colour try to stay alive.

I’m sure Jane Reddington meant no harm, but yeah, she harmed.

~ Leaf Kotasek