Pride event celebrates progress for transgender community
Filmmaker Gwen Haworth is one of this year's pride parade grand marshals. She'll also be the MC for Tuesday's Trans Youth Night. (Gwenhaworth.com)
Ian Holliday, CTV Vancouver
Published Monday, July 28, 2014 6:11PM PDT
Last Updated Monday, July 28, 2014 6:21PM PDT
It’s hard to talk about the Vancouver Pride Society’s Trans Youth Night scheduled for Tuesday at 6 p.m. at the Rio Theatre without also talking about the context in which it occurs.
For one thing, it’s the only pride society event this year that’s organized by and explicitly for transgender people. For another, 2014 has been a particularly good year for transgender issues in Vancouver, with local and provincial governments changing their rules to better accommodate transgender people.
In the first case, the event is notable because pride hasn’t always been seen as inclusive of the transgender community. In the second, it’s notable because it’s an opportunity to celebrate the gains that have been made.
Bry Leckie hopes Tuesday’s event will both reflect this progress and serve as an opportunity to continue the pride society’s efforts to bring transgender people into the fold.
“Pride has not had much of a trans focus in its past, but I do feel that is changing,” said Leckie, who is transgender and works as operations coordinator for the pride society.
“I know it’s something that the board and staff are actively looking for now,” she said. “They realize trans people are a huge part of our community and we need them, basically.”
Leckie took on the responsibility of organizing the Trans Youth Night because of her contacts with and knowledge of the transgender community. She said she expanded the scope of the event, which was originally more of a movie night, to make it more interactive.
The Trans Youth Night will feature a musical performance by Kieran Strange; a film screening and discussion with Amy Fox - the creator of the transgender comedy series The Switch - and actor Chance Kingsmyth; and a presentation and discussion led by representatives from the Catherine White Holman Wellness Centre, a Vancouver-based transgender health clinic.
Filmmaker Gwen Haworth, a transgender woman and one of the grand marshals of this year’s pride parade, will act as master of ceremonies.
Haworth said the struggle for recognition and inclusion of transgender people in society has come a long way since she came out 14 years ago.
She said changes like the Vancouver School Board’s recently updated policy on accommodating transgender students and staff, the Vancouver Park Board’s pilot program for gender-neutral washrooms at city parks and community centres, and the new provincial law that allows people to change the gender designation on their birth certificates without having surgery, are worth celebrating.
“I know that people will sometimes be frustrated about where we’re not yet, but I think that we have to also stop and appreciate the movements forward that we’ve done,” Haworth said. “Those things will definitely change the landscape of what it is to be trans identified in this city.”
Events like Tuesday’s are opportunities to celebrate those achievements and talk about how to build on them. Both Haworth and Leckie said it will be important to continue improving the inclusivity of pride events in the future, both for transgender people and for other under-represented groups - people of colour, people with disabilities, and people living in poverty, among others.
In the meantime, transgender people have a lot of reasons to be excited about Tuesday’s event, and about the future, Leckie said.
“As part of planning for this year’s trans event, we’ve learned quite a lot in terms of what we’d like to do next year,” she said. “We will be expanding trans programming next year to a bigger event. We’re really excited about that.”
Trans Youth Night will begin at 6 p.m. Tuesday at the Rio Theatre, 1660 E. Broadway, Vancouver. Admission costs $8 in advance, $10 at the door.