The BC Federation of Labour today released the following statement on the International Transgender Day of Visibility from BCFED President Sussanne Skidmore:
Today, we celebrate transgender people: as coworkers, friends, neighbours, family, leaders and members of our community. And we celebrate the courageous work of generations of transgender activists and their allies. In the face of hatred, scorn, violence and unjust laws, they have fought so that more and more trans people can step forward and live as their whole selves.
This act that so many of us take for granted in our own lives — of being seen for who we are — means the world. And it can make a life-saving difference for young transgender people looking for signs they aren’t alone, and that their lives and identities have just as much value as anyone else’s.
Change cannot come quickly enough, but it has been coming. We welcome the many initiatives from the BC government to fight hate and discrimination in our province, and to end its own exclusionary practices — most recently, leading the country in systematically removing outdated gendered and binary language from provincial laws. And the adoption of Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity curriculum resources in our schools has helped a new generation of British Columbians to erase ignorance and better understand the rich gender diversity of humanity.
But today’s celebration happens amidst a rising, orchestrated campaign of hate and disinformation about transgender people. And as the recent report from the BC Human Rights Commissioner makes clear, hatred has been especially toxic when it is directed against those with intersectional identities. Being visibly trans should never mean incurring the risk of abuse and violence, but that is the reality faced by far too many trans people. It’s encouraging to see so many in our community rise in support against that hate; we’ve been proud to join them in solidarity.
We know there is more that BC’s labour movement can do to support trans people, especially transgender workers, and lift up their voices. Our most recent convention removed gendered language from our constitution, and expanded gender parity language for officers’ seats to include two-spirit, transgender and gender-diverse workers. We overwhelmingly passed a resolution encouraging our affiliated unions to negotiate workplace protections for trans workers, as well as paid leave for gender-affirming care. And today, we’re launching a page of resources for transgender workers, including examples of contract language.
So while today is set aside for celebrating transgender visibility, our solidarity with transgender workers and gender-diverse people carries on throughout the year. As the BCFED’s first out queer president, I’m proud to say to transgender people throughout British Columbia and around the world, we see you, we celebrate you, and we stand with you in solidarity.