With much of my work as a gender diversity consultant, the lines between the personal and the professional realm become blurred. After the recent protests across Canada against the inclusion of Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity in schools, I wrote the following reflection, which garnered the attention of CBC News and led to a follow-up interview on All Points West with Jason D’Souza. I hope this reflection and interview resonate with you, and that you can share it with someone who needs it. If you work in schools, consider reaching out to explore how Ambit can support you as you navigate what it means to support 2SLGBTQ+ students, families, and colleagues in the current climate.
Personal reflection on the protest
If I’m being honest, the protest at the Legislature came on and off my radar over the past few weeks. I waffled about whether to attend, but ended up going at around 1:30, about an hour and half after it had started. As I biked down, my body shook the whole way – anxiety releasing through my muscles, some of it new and some that I’m sure had been stored for years. I’ve been to quite a few of these protests and counter-protests over the years, but this one felt different.
As I entered the crowd, waves of emotion came. I was so heartened and relieved that there were significantly more people in support of queer and trans people than those who believe our continued erasure is ideal. My first thought was, “This is why I do the work I do.” So that we can live more freely. So that we can not just stay alive, but feel like the most alive versions of ourselves. And so that people who might not otherwise care about us find reasons to care about us. Seeing so many people today, and knowing there were many more out there in other cities or who couldn’t make it in person, makes it all feel worthwhile. My work often involves sharing vulnerable stories about my experiences, my history, and my body. Although this comes with a pretty significant cost at times, seeing how many people turned out today reaffirms that it is all worthwhile.
There were so many signs! Some delighted me (“We’re all born naked, the rest is drag!) and others so perfectly and succinctly addressed some of the anti-trans rhetoric at the protest (“We aren’t trying to make cis kids trans, we’re trying to keep trans kids alive.”) My fave sign from the anti-trans / “parental rights” side was “They are not your children,” which showcased proficient use of neutral pronouns. Now, that wasn’t so bad, was it?
There were other pro-SOGI signs that hit me more viscerally. One said, “I’m alive today because a teacher listened.” I couldn’t find whoever held that sign, but if I could have, I wanted them to know that I was just so fucking glad they survived. If you have young people in your life, always remember that you can be that person who listened. That person who makes it possible for them to keep going. Many of you are those people for me, and I hope I’ve told you that enough.
In the end, the sign that I needed to see – the one that, although I’ve seen it before, was the one that cracked me open – was held by a calm and grounded woman who was very much on the front lines. Her sign, words painted on top of a trans flag, simply said, “This Mom loves you.” I made my way over to her, and as I started to tell her that I had noticed her sign from across the field, I broke down, and she held me while I cried on her shoulder. She kept saying nice things to me – things that soothed me in the moment, and also soothed young Kingsley, a trans kid in a world that wasn’t ready for me. “You’re perfect the way you are.” “You didn’t deserve the bad things that happened to you.” “You’re a gift to this world.” The whole interaction probably lasted less than 30 seconds. I hadn’t cried that way in almost eight years.
Ultimately, this is the kind of revolution I want to be a part of – one that creates spaces for grief, reverence, connection, levity, and healing. My deepest and dearest thanks to everyone who has been with me on this wild journey.