First transgender federal party leader calls for national anti-trans hate strategy
The Green Party of Canada is calling on the federal government to develop a targeted anti-transgender hate strategy, citing a “rising tide of hate” both in Canada and abroad.
Amita Kuttner, who is Canada's first transgender federal party leader, made the call during a press conference on Parliament Hill on Tuesday, marking the International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia.
"There's a rise of anti-trans hate globally, and it's starting to show here in Canada as well," they said, citing the growing number of anti-trans bills being pursued in the United States as one example.
Kuttner also pointed to a recent example in downtown Ottawa where signs with anti-trans messages were posted, prompting local advocates to voice concern about anti-trans movements becoming more vocal in Canada.
The interim Green leader said they have experienced first-hand instances of anti-trans hatred, and that often examples of transphobia are "defended as allowable conversation."
"We need a strategy in place immediately, preemptively. And at this point, honestly, it's not really preemptive anymore. But it is still early for us as we're seeing this rise in hatred and the strategy is needed," said Kuttner.
Kuttner said they recognize the federal government has been pursuing other LGBTQ2S+, gender-based violence, and anti-hate prevention and awareness initiatives, but it's the Greens' position that "it's important to recognize anti-trans hate as a particular form of hatred."
The Green leader also spoke about their personal gender-identity journey, after starting testosterone hormone replacement therapy one year ago, saying that "being trans itself is an incredible experience," that Kuttner is grateful for, but that they are looking forward to "finishing puberty again."
In a statement recognizing the International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia, the NDP noted that there are still many countries where being gay or trans is criminalized and can lead to imprisonment, violence, or murder, and called on the federal government to “be a stronger global advocate.”
Also marking the occasion, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and a handful of ministers issued statements on Tuesday drawing attention to the violence, harassment, discrimination and barriers experienced by members of these communities.
In her statement, Minister for Women and Gender Equality and Youth Marci Len noted that work continues on a federal LGBTQ2S+ "action plan" that was supposed to be completed "within the first 100 days in office." That deadline has now passed.
Trudeau also noted that Canada recently became the first country in the world to provide census data on transgender and non-binary people, and cited the 2017 passage of a bill that added gender identity and expression as prohibited grounds for discrimination under the Canadian Human Rights Act.
"The Government of Canada recognizes we have more to do to ensure that everyone is free to be their authentic self," Trudeau said in the statement.