Trudeau marches in gay pride parade

Jane Reddington

Sounder Staff

Tuesday, July 19 2016

On July 2, 2016, our Prime Minister marched in Toronto’s gay pride parade. He was the first Prime Minister to do so and even downplayed his presence saying he’d been attending such events for years. Justin Trudeau also said the government is looking into gender neutral identification. Ontario announced last week that it would allow the use of a third gender indicator, X, for driver’s licences and health cards.

As the parade kicked off, Trudeau said, “We have to speak up anytime there is intolerance or discrimination.” Reading this made my heart sing. First, I can’t believe we have a Prime Minister who really is the people’s minister. He represents the best of Canada, and how is it that he is the first to participate? What were all those other men doing before him? It begs the question why march when so many people have opted not to? 

People gather and march to celebrate life, to be heard, to be seen and to stand together in the face of discrimination. Gay pride parades are about sharing the joy of being a community, of standing up to discrimination, to bullies and to those who would question the right to be who you are if you are not straight, if you choose a gender other than the one you were born with, if you knew from the time you were three or four that you were not living in the body that reflects who you are inside.

I recently watched a CBC documentary on youth who have decided to opt for gender reassignment. It means years of counselling and conversations about operations, hormone injections and name changes. There were parents who refused to help their children take even the first step by letting them legally change their names, and there were children suffering silently because they wholeheartedly believed that not being able to have gender reassignment would mean a life of torture.

I marvelled at how the transgender children knew their own hearts and were prepared at such a young age for gender reassignment surgery. In one shot there were four teenage girls; one of them had begun the process. I couldn’t tell which girl it was. That made me smile. She had experienced so much acceptance and love from her friends and family that being who she really is just wasn’t an issue.

So when Trudeau marched in the parade, I thought, we are the greatest country in the world to have a leader like this. But more than that, I thought about the young children and their journeys to be the people they really are. Their right to make these choices is important and they must be allowed to follow through with the process with the support of the communities they live in. Because being who you really are, not living a lie, means you can feel self-confidence and self-esteem and give your best to the world.

When the leader of our country sets an example for us all to follow, when he stands for equality, fairness, open-mindedness and truth, then we truly are living in the best country in the world. And who knows what dreams might be realized by the children who are transgendered? We should all have that ticket to truly be ourselves and a gay pride parade might just be the best measure of how accepting we are as a society and how far we have come as a country.