When I lived in Missoula, I regularly did activities and made donations of clothing, books, and money to the YWCA, an organization which I respected for putting on great programs like GUTS! (Girls Using Their Strengths) and living by their credo: “Eliminating Racism, Empowering Women”. When I was frightened about the possibility of going home one year because of the violent, cruel, unpredictable behaviour of my mother and stepfather, the YWCA of Missoula helped me by offering shelter and a way of staying in Missoula so I would feel safe.
Unfortunately, it looks like the YWCA in Sudbury, Ontario, didn’t get the memo about empowering women. Apparently, they only empower women who happened to be born with a vagina. A woman who was experiencing a very scary situation not too dissimilar to what I went through sought the YWCA for help, they humiliated her and then turned her away. From the CBC:
“They asked me if I have a penis or a vagina, if I pee standing up, sitting down — very sexual questions that if you asked someone who is not trans, I believe would be considered sexual harassment.”
The shelter is now facing a human rights complaint, and rightfully so. Rather than apologizing for being jerkwads to a woman in a time of great need, they defended the position:
YWCA executive director Marlene Gorman said she can’t comment on individual cases. But she said transgender women are not allowed in the shelter.
“Someone who identifies as a transgendered woman would be referred to another safe space,” she said.
Another safe space? Terrific. We all know how domestic violence shelters are just abound in this country, there’s practically one on every corner! If your genitals are such an offence to one, it’s a piece of cake to find another one which will take you in during an emergency!
If only domestic violence shelters which assisted all people in an emergency were as abundant as the amount of sarcasm in the above paragraph, eh?
But hey, trans* people can’t even get housing in this country without running the risk of being arbitrarily kicked out if they’re outed as trans*, and have the landlords face no legal repercussions for doing so! Ditto for the workplace! Why should shelters for when they do find themselves without a home or means of supporting themselves be any different? Kick them while they’re down! That’ll teach ’em for disrupting our neat little ideas of who is a man and who is a woman, and who is a victim worthy of assistance.
In fact, if you squint your eyes and tilt your head, it’s almost as if there’s no discernible difference between the way trans* people in this country are treated by the regressive conservative government of Stephen Harper, and the regressive fauxminism of the people running the YWCA of Sudbury! Who would have thought they’d find such lovely common ground as treating people who challenge the gender binary like garbage? They should have a lovely little party with maple crumpets and discussion as to how they can dehumanize trans* people tomorrow.