Yesterday I attended the Trans and Genderqueer Liberation and Celebration March in East Vancouver which attracted an incredibly diverse and engaged crowd of transgender and genderqueer people and their allies.

Here’s the sign I carried:

Transgender and genderqueer sign

The one on the left says "TRANSPHOBIA BELONGS IN THE LITTERBOX" and the sign on the right says "MY CAT LOVES ALL GENDERS".

People from many walks of life walked, wheeled, or rode down the northbound lanes of Commercial Drive from Clark Park at E 14th Ave. to Victoria Park at Salsbury Dr. And Grant St. to ensure, as one sign read, that the “T” in “LGBT” was not silent.

The focus and tone of the event is markedly different from the mammoth Pride parade which takes place today. Firstly, it’s much smaller in scale and I think it’s more of a grassroots protest than the Pride parade. There are no floats or advertisements, for example, and media coverage of the event was minimal by comparison.

I am, of course, not suggesting one is better than the other. They are two very different celebrations each wonderful in their own way.

I have attended previous transgender and genderqueer marches in 2010 and 2012. I was in San Francisco during the 2011 event.

It’s very important for me to show up at these marches as I have several friends who are transgender and genderqueer and I strongly believe they are entitled to the same rights and freedoms as every other Canadian. Rights which they have thus far been denied.

As a gay person I am protected by both the Charter of Rights and Freedoms as well as the British Columbia Human Rights Code. My transgender friends, however, are not.

Both the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms and the British Columbia Human Rights Code preclude discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation but not gender identity. The BC Human Rights Tribunal, however, has expanded the protected class of sex to include transgender people through successive rulings dating back to 1999. But protection for gender expression is not explicitly written into the Code’s section protecting people from discrimination.

During Pride weekend I think it’s important to take a moment for people to think about ways we can ensure that ensure that society is a safe and inclusive space for the “T” in “LGBT”.

Here’s my video of the event: