This month kicks off Pride season here in Canada, which runs through the summer as various events take place across the country (our own Capital Pride will take place in August here in Ottawa). While Pride is an important opportunity to celebrate how far we’ve come, there is still much to be done to support our 2SLGBTQQIA+ community members. Despite gains here in Canada (including banning conversion therapy and changes to the 2021 census to better capture gender diversity), there are still many 2SLGBTQQIA+ people who feel unsafe, myself included. This is only bolstered by the troubling atmosphere of anti-LGBTQ laws south of the border and abroad. Ottawa recently witnessed a slew of homophobia and transphobia during the truckers’ convoy which served as a chilling reminder that we must still be vigilant in our own city.
2SLGBTQQIA+ people still experience higher rates of violence than their heterosexual, cisgender peers and often feel unsafe reporting incidents to the police due to fear of further violence and victimization. Yet their voices can be neglected within conversations about gender-based violence, despite so often being the target.
Compared to their heterosexual peers, LGB+ women are more likely to experience intimate partner violence (49% vs. 25%) and roughly half have been physically or sexually assaulted.
Trans people are almost twice as likely to experience intimate partner violence, with three in five trans women having experienced intimate partner violence since the age of 16.
Trans and gender-diverse people are significantly more likely to experience physical and sexual assault than their cis peers (58.9% vs. 37.1%).
These rates are even more troubling when identities intersect. For example, we know that the majority (73%) of gender-diverse and Two-Spirit Indigenous persons have experienced some form of violence due to transphobia.
Let this Pride season remind us that sexism, homophobia, transphobia, and gender-based violence are rooted in broad inequalities we must continue to fight. Within advocacy related to gender-based violence, we must remember to uplift, and make space for the voices of our 2SLGBTQQIA+ community members and learn from their knowledge and experiences. The way forward is always together. As we move beyond the month of June, we need to make sure that the lessons we learn about gender and power from the 2SLGBTQQIA+ community are central to our efforts to end gender-based violence and to make our community safer.
If you’re out at Pride events this summer remember a few safety tips:
Plan to attend events with a buddy and share your plan with someone who isn’t with you.
Be aware of safe locations or trusted businesses in and around events that you can access if you feel unsafe.
Call out violence if you see it, and report it to organizers or police if safe to do so.
See more Pride safety strategies via the Anti-Violence Project
If you need 2SLGBTQQIA+ support here in Ottawa:
For people experiencing violence and abuse at home, you can text 613-704-5535 or chat online at unsafeathomeottawa.ca.
For education, counselling and support services for 2SLGBTQQIA+ families and individuals, LGBTTQ+ Around the Rainbow offers various programs through Family Services Ottawa.
For crisis and hotline support, LGBTQ2+ Youth Line offers call 1-800-268-9688 or text 647-694-4275, Trans LifeLine is a 24hr Crisis Line 1-877-330-6366, or contact the Distress Centre for general distress and crisis support for the Ottawa region.
For quick access to brief counselling, Centretown Community Health Centre is offering phone and video appointments through https://www.counsellingconnect.org/.
Here at WISE we know that when we make our community safe for its most vulnerable members we make the community safer for everyone. That’s why we offer customized Personal Safety and Legal Education workshops that can be tailored to your needs. If you're feeling unsafe in your community, we also offer Community Safety Audits to evaluate areas of concern and suggest changes to improve safety.