A few vignettes and observations about living in Ottawa as a visible trans woman.
Book launch: Soar, Adam, Soar.
The launch of Soar, Adam, Soar, Rick Prashaw’s book about his young trans man son, was held February 7, 2019 at the Canadian Museum of Nature. The mood that pervaded the room that evening was very positive. This was due both to Rick himself, a man who exudes warmth and wears his compassion on his sleeve, and his son Adam, who in his short life brought together a number of diverse communities.
The MC for the evening was Rita Celli from CBC Radio One who related how she came to know Rick through his act of generosity when they both lived in Sudbury. Besides readings from the book, there were moving speeches from Joel Frappier, Adam’s boss at Gourmet Cuisine and the caterer at the museum’s Nature Cafe, and Tina Proulx, co-chair of the Ottawa branch of the Gift of Life Network. (It was mentioned, and worth repeating, that of the 170 communities surveyed in Ontario, Ottawa ranks 118 in organ donation registration. We can do better than that! See links below.)
When Rick signed my copy of the book, he also wrote wrote, “Human rights for all”. That message also spoke to the feeling in the room that evening.
It was a wonderful event. What I know of Adam, I think he would have been pleased.
Book launch: Gender: Your Guide
On the evening of December 5th, with wet snow falling outside, about 25 diverse people snuggled into a room at the 25ONE Community working space on Bank Street for the book launch of Gender: Your Guide, by Dr. Lee Airton.
It was an interesting evening. Dr. Airton is an Assistant Professor in the Faculty of Education at Queen’s University. Gender: Your Guide is a natural extension of their teaching, research and advocacy work in encouraging individuals and institutions to be open to gender and sexual diversity. In their opening remarks, Dr. Airton said this book is for now, this historical moment when there is an increased awareness that gender is everywhere. They noted that ten years ago people were asking why we have to make accommodations for gender, while now the discussion is how do we do this? Welcome progress. The book is a “primer on what to know, what to say, and what to do in the new gender culture.”
Dr. Airton read four passages that provided some insight into what the book is about. Among them was their own tale as a child needing – not wanting but needing – a pair of Doc Martin shoes. It was an interesting personal illustration of how kids navigate their experience of gender. Equally interesting was their sister’s encounter with infertility and how something like not having a baby by her late 30s set her outside a “normal” gender category.
A question and answer discussion followed, with an informal book signing afterwards. Gender: Your Guide is currently available only in hard cover, but a paperback edition is expected. The event was a collaborative presentation of Octopus Books, Simon & Schuster Canada and the Canadian Centre for Gender & Sexual Diversity.
I’ll upload a full review as soon as I’ve read it.
Dr. Airton’s gender pronoun web sites are No Big Deal, a campaign fostering the use of correct pronouns (https://www.nbdcampaign.ca/) and TIMP, They Is My Pronoun: http://theyismypronoun.com/ Their personal site is at https://www.leeairton.com/
Lyra Evans elected Ottawa-Carleton School Board trustee
Congratulations to Lyra Evans who on October 22nd was elected Ottawa-Carleton School Board trustee for Zone 9 (Rideau-Vanier/Capital). As an open trans woman who has experienced homelessness, Ms. Evans will be a powerful voice for students who for whatever reason are marginalized within the school system. Prior to winning a seat on the Board, Lyra was a community organizer, an activist for the LGBTQ community, and an NDP candidate in Ottawa-Vanier in the recent Ontario provincial election. She placed a respectable second in the heavily Liberal riding, garnering almost 30% of the vote. In her campaign for trustee, Ms. Evans opposed the Ford government reverting to the 1998 sex education curriculum and halting revisions designed to incorporate findings of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission.
Whose bench is this underneath a canopy of leaves along a short winding brick pathway in St. Luke’s Park in downtown Ottawa? The name on the small metal plate reads Adam Prashaw, and there is an invitation too: “Sit down. Relax. Enjoy”. More
Trans Outaouais celebrated their fifth anniversary on September 7th with a pot luck at their usual meeting place, Cap Santé Outaouais in Gatineau. Recently I met founder and coordinator Ève Jutras for an interesting and wide ranging discussion on the group and other trans issues. (October 2018) More
Amanda Ryan and Joanne Law honoured by the Village Legacy Project
Cheers to Amanda Ryan and Joanne Law for their inclusion in the Village Legacy Project Community Heroes Portrait Gallery.
Take a tour through Ottawa’s Queer Village on Bank Street from James Street north to Nepean Street and take in the wonderful portraits by Glenn Crawford. These are colourful, hanging banners with the images of “43 icons, activists, rebels and heroes who, among many others, helped build Ottawa’s queer community from the ground up from the very beginning of the liberation movement on.”
This is a wonderful honour for Amanda and Joanne. Amanda’s portrait is on the east side of Bank at Cooper Street while Joanne is at Maclaren Street, also on the east side. Their portraits are gorgeous! Congratulations!
For more on the Village Legacy Project see http://www.villagelegacy.ca/
This year marks the 10th anniversary that Zelda Marshall has organized dinners on behalf of Gender Mosaic. Her efforts have allowed trans people and their supporters to experience a wide range of pubs and restaurants across the city. A toast to the lady who’s delivered fine cuisine, good company, and increased trans visibility! More
No Gender Mosaic at 2018 Pride Parade
For the second year in a row, Gender Mosaic as an organization will not be participating in the Capital Pride Parade, although individual members are welcome to participate. In 2017, organizers of Capital Pride requested off duty police not wear their uniforms at Pride, suggesting that many in the queer community did not feel comfortable around police. In an email to Capital Pride, the executive of GM said that it opposed the “decision of the Pride Committee to ask the Ottawa Police not to put a float in the parade or to wear uniforms”. Capital Pride has reiterated its request to the Ottawa Police for 2018.
Over the years Gender Mosaic members have been involved with the Ottawa Police Service in many ways, most notably with the Ottawa Police Liaison Committee, and the executive felt Capital Pride’s decision was a backward step in the GLBT community’s relationship with the OPS. Gender Mosaic first participated in the Pride Parade in 1994.
While the bars on Elgin Street were filling up early in the afternoon for St. Patrick’s Day 2018, I was at the Jack Purcell Community Centre for SAEFTY’s Human Library. SAEFTY (Support and Education for Trans Youth) is Ottawa’s newest and only by youth for youth trans, Two Spirit and gender diverse youth group. In a human library, individuals volunteer as human ‘books’ and visitors to the event can have a one on one conversation with the volunteer and share in a dialogue about that individual’s experience. More