On November 20, CUPE Ontario’s 280,000 members join our communities in observing Transgender Remembrance Day and in celebrating our collective victories while recommitting to addressing the many challenges that still exist.
We take note that, while the commemoration of this day began as a memorial for trans people murdered and brutalized because of their identities, this history is ongoing and certainly not behind us. So many around the world, and in this province, are still victim to virulent and violent transphobia, with many of them being Black, Indigenous, and people of colour.
Violence against trans people has also found expression in policies ushered in by politicians who insist they’re allies. In Ontario, after “trans community activists organized, lobbied, and successfully fought to restore transition related surgeries in 2008, the Ford Conservatives cut access to trans health and community services,” says Susan Gapka, chair of CUPE Ontario’s Pink Triangle Committee.
“Since then, wait times for referrals and access to trans affirming care and surgeries have dramatically increased, causing distress to those requiring these essential services,” says Gapka. “People desperately need equitable access to life-saving health care.”
In the spirit of recognizing that health care has always been political and that it should be accessible for all, CUPE Ontario has vocally supported NDP MPP Suze Morrison’s Private Members’ Bill, the Gender Affirming Health Care Advisory Committee Act, an essential piece of legislation that will save lives and ensure that access to health care is more equitable for all.
It would establish a committee – consisting of members of the two-spirit, transgender, non-binary, gender diverse, intersex communities, and health care providers – that would make recommendations to the Minister of Health regarding ways to improve access to gender-affirming and transition-related procedures.
Making this Bill the law of this province is one critical step among so many others to ensure that Ontario is a safe place for trans people.
CUPE has a proud history of fighting for trans members rights in the workplace and in our province. At the bargaining table, locals have made gains that directly address discrimination; they have advanced language that apply an equity lens to issues like pensions and health & safety; and have bargained a transition fund for employees, and paid transition leave for members, an important victory for trans inclusion.
CUPE Ontario’s Pink Triangle Committee has advanced the important work of creating safer, fairer workplaces for lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans, two-spirited, intersex, and queer union members.
This work is more necessary than ever and, even as we remember those we’ve lost, we’ll continue our collective work to advance, together.
Attend the 519 Trans Day of Remembrance on November 20 via zoom