ASTT(e)Q urges Québec shelters to change discriminatory practices
25 January, 2013 - As temperatures drop to extreme lows, transsexual and transgender women in Montréal continue to be turned away from many homeless women’s shelters. Over the past week of bitter cold, ASTT(e)Q, a local trans health project of CACTUS Montréal, has witnessed several of our members be denied shelter on the grounds of being trans. While such refusals are frequently justified by administrative regulations, members of ASTT(e)Q believe that these exclusive practices are rooted in discriminatory attitudes towards trans people.
A majority of women’s shelters throughout Québec require trans people to have undergone sex reassignment surgery, and/or to have changed their legal sex. “Such requirements are unattainable for most homeless trans people, due to prohibitive costs, and extensive administrative requirements,” says Mirha-Soleil Ross, staff of ASTT(e)Q. “Trans women are left with no alternatives, as men’s shelters are clearly not an option. With no place to turn, homeless trans women find themselves on the streets, which in -30 below temperatures is nothing short of deadly.”
“Just this week, a trans woman who had her surgery months ago was refused access to a woman’s shelter because she didn’t have an ‘F’ on her identity documents! While we believe trans people should have access to shelter and housing regardless of surgical status, this is a clear case of discrimination disguised as administrative regulations,” continues Ross.
“We are currently seeing many important legal and social advances for trans people, including in neighbouring Ontario where one can change their legal sex regardless of surgical status,” says Nora Butler Burke, coordinator of ASTT(e)Q. “In Québec, trans people have been relentlessly educating intervention workers and calling for shelters to address the exclusion of homeless trans people for decades. Yet shelters continue to refuse trans people based on the outdated policies of the Québec Department of Civil Status.”
In the context of life threatening temperatures, ASTT(e)Q urges all shelters to immediately remove barriers to admission for trans people based on the legal documentation in their possession and/or their surgical status. More broadly, we advocate for access to shelters, as well as other gender specific services, to be available according to one’s social identity rather than according to their legal or surgical status. We encourage organizations across Québec to work in collaboration with trans community groups to ensure that trans people are no longer denied access.
About ASTT(e)Q (Action Santé Travesti(e)s et Transsexuel(le)s du Québec)
ASTT(e)Q aims to promote the health and well-being of trans people through peer support and advocacy, education and outreach, and community empowerment and mobilization. We understand the health of trans people and our communities to be interrelated to economic and social inequalities, which have resulted in trans people experiencing disproportionate rates of poverty, un(der)employment, precarious housing, criminalization and violence. We believe in the right to self-determine our gender identity and gender expression free from coercion, violence and discrimination. We advocate for access to health care that will meet the many needs of our diverse communities, while working collectively to build supportive, healthy and resilient communities.
For interviews: Nora Butler Burke at 514-347-9462
For terms, definitions and additional information about trans people:www.santetranshealth.org
I’ve highlighted the most important parts of the study for you all to read:
Discrimination was pervasive for all respondents who took the National Transgender Discrimination Survey, yet the combination of anti-transgender bias and persistent, structural and individual racism was especially devastating for Black transgender people and other people of color.
- Black transgender people live in extreme poverty with 34% reporting a household income of less than $10,000/year. This is more than twice the rate for transgender people of all races (15%), four times the general Black population rate (9%), and over eight times the general US population rate (4%).
- Black transgender people are affected by HIV in devastating numbers. Over one-fifth of Black respondents were HIV-positive (20.23%) and an additional 10% reported that they did not know their status. This compares to rates of 2.64% for transgender respondents of all races, 2.4% for the general Black population, and 0.60% of the general US population.
- Nearly half (49%) of Black respondents reported having attempted suicide.
- Black transgender people who were out to their families found acceptance at a higher rate than the overall sample of transgender respondents.
- 50% of Black respondents who attended school expressing a transgender identity or gender non-conformity face harassment.
- Half (51%) reported discomfort seeking police assistance. Thirty-five percent (35%) of Black transgender people had been arrested or held in a cell due to bias at some point in their lives.
- Physical and sexual assault in jail/prison is a serious problem: 29% of Black respondents who had been to jail or prison reported being physically assaulted and 32% reported being sexually assaulted while in custody.
- Health outcomes for Black respondents show the appalling effects of social and economic marginalization, including much higher rates of HIV infection, smoking, drug and alcohol use and suicide attempts than the general population.
- 21% of Black transgender people reported being refused medical care due to bias. Over half of Black transgender people reported having postponed care when they were sick or injured due to fear of discrimination (34%).
- Black transgender people had an extremely high unemployment rate at 26%, two times the rate of the overall transgender sample and four times the rate of the general population.
- Thirty-two percent (32%) of Black transgender people lost a job due to bias and 48% were not hired for a job due to bias.
As you can see, trans* issues ARE race issues.
*waits for GLAAD and the HRC to even mention this*
*thinking about going to get something to eat*
*waits some more*
Frankly, it’s much ado about nothing. I find it especially amusing that the people who are angry about this are also the same people who are ardent capitalists and shit their pants at the thought of anything vaguely socialist. Oreo isn’t the first company to try to get a gay audience. A lot of companies will try to attract an LGBTQ audience by sponsoring Pride, advertising on LOGO, and making ads with same-gender couples. Oreos aren’t part of an evil gay conspiracy. They have simply realized that there is a group with disposable income and are trying to get them to buy their products. Oreo is not trying to turn your kids into Radical Faeries; they just want queer people to buy their delicious cookies. It’s capitalism at work, and you’d think they’d be happy.
However, I think it’s annoying how people are using it as an excuse to thumb their noses at homophobes. TBH, an ad with a rainbow cookie isn’t going to end prejudice against LGBTQ people. They wanted people to buy their products and considering how many people on the Oreo fan page have posted that they are going to go buy Oreos, their plan has apparently succeeded. Enjoy your cookies, but if you actually want to support LGBTQ people, you’d be better off supporting queer-owned businesses or just donating your time and money to an organization instead of buying Oreos.
Far too often, I’ve heard radical queers and feminists, in their hipster garb, talking their academic jargon about checking one’s privilege and being accountable, and in the same breath mocking poor people. It’s not always explicit. Actually, in social justice circles, it hardly ever is. Many of you know not to say words like ghetto or white trash, or at least I hope you do, because of its classist and racist implications, but that seems to be where the anti-classist work stops. So, let me help you.
- Every time you push your vegan/vegetarian/pescatarian diet on people, remember that your diet is a privilege that doesn’t make you superior or more of an environmentalist, food justice champion, animal lover or good human. I know you know about food deserts. Well, you don’t have to live in one to not be able to afford to have a restrictive diet.
- Furthermore, poor folks went green along ass time ago. I don’t get why you feel so special about your mason jars and bicycles. Oh good for you for taking the bus when you could’ve driven. Do you want a vegan gluten-free cookie?
- Yes, Wal-Mart is evil. So, is Urban Outfitters. Get over yourself. The only reason why Wal-Mart is singled out is because poor people shop there and it is easier to distance yourself from the problem. So, stop judging poor consumers who are just trying to feed and clothe their families, and start working to dismantle capitalism, or at least organize for workers’ rights (preferably in a non savior complex kinda way).
- Your shitty college dorm room, apartment or shared house, does not make you poor, neither does shopping at Good Will.
- There is a difference between being broke and poor, much like the difference between acute and chronic pain. Learn the difference.
- For those of you who do work with poor folks, you are not special, and you are not a savior. Like I said before, drop the savior routine. It makes a big difference when you take the cues from the communities you are serving. And, just because someone isn’t a college educated career activist, doesn’t mean they don’t know what is best for them and their communities. So, don’t be a condescending ass when people don’t talk like you, and practice some real nonjudgmental allyship.
- Pro tip: classy, trashy, hood, ghetto, dangerous/sketchy/seedy (in reference to poor PoC neighborhoods), white trash, etc are all really classist terms and hella racist too. Think about it, why do we specify that the trash is white? Because all other trash must be brown, right? If you don’t have a claim to these words, don’t use them.
Anyway, the examples could go on, and if anyone wants to add onto this, please do. I just don’t understand how a community that prides itself on fighting body-shaming and slut-shaming, could be so unequivocally class-shaming. In your own words, you better check your privilege.