Tag Archives: transphobia

The Dangers of Ignorance in Positions of Power

4 Oct

You have undoubtedly, by now, read or heard about MP Rob Anders petition against bill C279 and why he is opposed.


Let’s all take a moment to review:
– Transgender individuals currently don’t have human rights in Canada. This is a disgrace.
– Bill C279 is about rectifying this so that Trans Canadians are protected at work and where they live, have access to health care, and can learn in a safe environment. Oh, and go to the bathroom of their choice, without harassment. All basic human rights.

The bathroom issue, so often used when talking about Trans people, is ignorant an misguided (and transphobic). It also ironically misses the point that it is usually Trans people who are harassed in bathrooms, not the ones doing the harassing.

What is your company, organization or school doing to make bathrooms safe for Trans individuals?

PS – By the way, transgender men wouldn’t be using the women’s bathroom, as the article suggests. They would be using the men’s bathroom!
*sigh* we clearly have a lot of educating to do.

See More.

Copyright 2012 Annemarie Shrouder
Speaker, Author and Facilitator on issues of Diversity and Inclusion.



The Power of a Name

7 Jun

This week in Ontario, Bill 13 (the Accepting Schools Act) passed. This Bill addresses bullying and includes clear reference to homophobia, biphobia and transphobia as types of bullying. Hooray! Naming is powerful in fighting oppression.

One of the aspects of the Bill that has received much attention is that Gay-Straight Alliances (GSAs) will be able to be named as such in schools. As you may have read/heard about, this caused no shortage of debate and disagreement among some school boards, educators and religious leaders.

The bottom line is this: when we name something, we can address it.

A GSA is a club which, by design, helps to address homophobia, biphobia, transphobia (the fear and hatred of LGBTQ people, which can manifest as verbal and physical harassment – bullying – exclusion and physical harm including death) as well as heterosexism (the assumption that everyone is heterosexual and that it is the only “normal” sexual orientation), and cis-normativity (the assumption that everyone is cisgender, and that maleness and femaleness is a binary). And the name suggests the mandate. It is a club where queer students and their allies can talk, strategize about how to make their schools safer, and support each other in these endeavours (as well as when incidents of the above occur). They are a safe space in a possibly otherwise hostile environment (in some cases) and a focal point for change even in accepting environments.

While a social justice club can, technically, do the same thing, if we can’t use the word “gay” in the club name, I wonder about the efficacy of dealing with homo/bi/transphobia in that setting – of naming the issues and dealing with them.

Naming something creates the space for it to exist. It validates it. And it’s the first step in addressing a problem because without a name, what are we really talking about?

See more.

copyright 2012 Annemarie Shrouder
Author, speaker and facilitator on issues of diversity & inclusion.


Making things better for LGBTQ youth

23 May

Every once in a while I’m touched by the commitment and compassion of an organization to make the world a better place and create spaces where people are and feel valued for who they are.

TD has been on my list of exemplary companies around LGBTQ issues, and the launch of their new “It Gets Better” video is another example of what we can do when we walk the talk about inclusion. What I like most about it is the honesty and the  acknowledgment of how hard it can be to be yourself in the face of hate and lack of acceptance – and that this hate is not about you. Wow. I wonder how many hearts will be touched by those words? How many kids will take another breath and keep going because someone not only said “it’s going to get better” but “it sucks now, and it’s a systemic problem”? (Someone in a position of power and in a suit, no less!)

I have heard Ed Clark (the CEO of TD) say, with my own ears, that TD will never put profits before people. I know that they are committed to LGBTQ communities because he found out (years ago) that a high level executive at TD felt he had to quit because he was gay. TD has been transformed internally as well as in their community support because someone in power “got it”, and did something about it.

There are many ways to make a difference – big ways and small ways – no matter who we are.
Speaking up for, or standing beside someone as an ally are two ways that can help to begin a ripple of change that could change someone’s whole world.

Watch the video.
Be inspired.

See more.

Copyright 2012 Annemarie Shrouder
Author, Speaker and Facilitator on issues of Diversity & Inclusion

International Day Against Homophobia & Transphobia – tomorrow May 17th!

16 May

Tomorrow is the International Day against Homophobia and Transphobia.

If you’re in the Toronto area, and want to get involved, here are a few things to consider:

Egale Canada is hosting a FREE breakfast at the Sutton Place Hotel (8:00 – 9:30am).
Come and start your day with some food and awareness-raising. Speakers include the Ontario Minister of Education, the Chair of PFLAG Toronto and the VP of the Ontario English Catholic Teachers (to name a few).
Contact RSVP@egale.ca or call 1 888 204 7777 to reserve a spot!!

Flag Raising 12:30pm at Toronto City Hall.
Brian Burke will be speaking.

Reception 4:30-6pm, Committee Room 230 at Queens Park
Co-hosted by Egale Canada and PFLAG Toronto.
RSVP: bryn.hendricks@rogers.com

See you there!

See more.

Copyright 2012 Annemarie Shrouder
Author, speaker and facilitator on issues of diversity and inclusion.

LGBT-Inclusive Workplaces

18 Nov

This week’s article in the Toronto Star about the changes in Canadian workplaces for LGBT employees is encouraging. It is good to hear from large corporations who are making a difference in the daily lives of their LGBT employees. 

In our quest to further inclusion, invisible diversity is often much harder to address because we don’t see it. For lesbian, gay, bisexual or trans-identified employees there is another layer: fear. What will change when people know? Will I be safe? Comments like “that’s so gay” and homophobic jokes (as well as silence about these rather than clear messages of inappropriateness) poison the work environment for LGBT people and send a message that it’s not safe to be out. For workplaces to be safe for LGBT employees there needs to be solid expectations about zero tolerance for homophobia, transphobia and heterosexism in policy and practice, awareness-raising, and support.

The Toronto Star article mentions several examples of  how to move towards more LGBT inclusive workplaces: Employee Resources Groups with executive champions (RBC), forums to discuss what it feels like to be LGB or T in the workplace (IBM), supporting community initiatives (TELUS), and including relevant benefits (TD). Strategies and commitments such as these help increase visibility, and create awareness and opportunities for dialogue that enable us to make the changes necessary for the inclusion of LGBT colleagues in our workplaces.

Leadership, of course, is key; without commitment from leadership, these programs lack the impact necessary to help create lasting change.

Hats off to the companies listed in this article, and their employees who are helping to make LGBT inclusive workplaces a reality across the country!

See more.

Copyright 2011 Annemarie Shrouder
author, speaker and facilitator on issues of diversity & inclusion

Family Stickers

28 Oct

A little levity on a Friday afternoon….with a message, of course.

I walked into the pet store earlier this week and was confronted with a large cardboard marketing campaign for Family Stickers – the new thing in advertising who we are through our vehicles. You may have seen them – they are stick figure stickers that one is meant to put on the back window of the vehicle to depict ones family – including pets.

I have seen these on people’s cars, so the concept wasn’t new. What was new was the idea of choosing the figure that “fits”. Of course I scrutinized the poster from a diversity lens and noted several concerns – now that I’ve been to the website, some of these are less, but here are a few after a quick perusal.

On the website you can choose your family members  (adult, teen, child, baby and pet) and then you are given a multitude of options to complete the image by choosing a head and a body. You can also create them in colour. Although I’m not sure about the names (white to dark mocha), hooray for options!

I was pleasantly surprised to see a mixture of possible hairstyles and activities the bodies could be doing. As an example, there is a dreadlock option for hairstyles for males and females (yay!). But there is also some stereotypes/cultural misappropriation like the feather head-dress option for boys (ugh).

The bigger issue that stood out for me today (and what I’m going to focus on)was gender: Before you get to these choices of colour or body or head, you have to choose male or female (adult, teen, child or baby). Too bad!

Here’s the issue:
While it seems that the body choices are doing similar activities, not all of the activities are the same: both have “doctor” options, for example, but only females have a “fairy” option and only males have a “business suit” option. What about guys who take themselves, lightly or a woman who is in Corporate Canada? And what if you’re trans-identified?

Ah the world of binary gender and gender role stereotyping.

I, for one have a hairstyle that more closely matches a choice in the “adult male” category. While I suppose I could just go into the adult male category for my stick figure representation and call it a day (it’s just a stick figure for crying out loud), it bugs me. There is a bigger message; an undercurrent that can add to the perpetuation of lack of choices, expectations, sexism and homophobia, biphobia and transphobia.

What is so gendered about a stick figure that I should have to choose? Seems like a safe place to start challenging some of our ideas and expectations of gender and gender roles and opening these up.

 Wouldn’t it be great if all of the options were available for each family member category so that everyone had the same choices of how to represent themselves? In fact, wouldn’t it be great if there were no categories at all, just a bunchof choices for colour, heads and body?

See more.

Copyright 2011 Annemarie Shrouder
author, speaker & facilitator on issues of diversityand inclusion


Gender Identity & Human Rights

23 Sep

We’re lucky in Canada to have a Human Rights Code that recognizes the inherent right to fair and equitable treatment, regardless of who we are…well, almost.

Gender Identity is still not specified as a prohibited ground for discrimination under the Code.

Most of us probably haven’t given this much thought.
For most people, gender identity matches their physical bodies.
For some people, however, this is not the case.
Transgender, trans-identified and transsexual individuals face discrimination and violence, and currently have no real human rights protection.

MP Hedy Fry is changing that by introducing Bill C-276: An Act to amend the Canadian Human Rights Act and the Criminal Code (gender identity and gender expression).

Take a look.
And then think about what you need to be more aware of and learn in order to help make spaces more inclusive for transgender, trans-identified and transsexual people in your communities, organizations and families.

See more.

copyright 2011 Annemarie Shrouder
author, speaker and facilitator on issues of diversity and inclusion


%d bloggers like this: