Activists and supporters of transgender people gathered in downtown Montreal on Sunday for the fourth annual Trans March.
Organizers of the event said they are marching in support of the rights of transgender migrants.
More specifically, they are hoping to put pressure on the Quebec government to adopt Bill-895 into law.
The bill, tabled by the Parti Québécois opposition in the spring, would allow all transgender immigrants to change their gender or name on identity documents.
Currently, Quebec laws state that they can only do so once they become Canadian citizens.
“In Quebec today, they are the only people who are not able to change their names,” said Raphële Frigon, a Trans March spokesperson.
It is the second year in a row that the event is devoted to highlighting the issues faced by transgender migrants.
Frigon said that despite round tables and discussions, the government is dragging its feet.
“So far the minister of justice of Quebec has not really shown a lot of interest in solving this situation,” Frigon said. “It’s very unfortunate and we think it is because trans migrants lack the political capital.”
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Activists argue that the inability to change their names or gender, puts transgender immigrants at greater risk of experiencing discrimination and violence.
In an interview with Global News earlier this week, community organizer Nora Butler Burke, said that it is not uncommon for transgender women to be incarcerated with men, and are sometimes forced to plead guilty in order to escape abuse.
Having your outward appearance match your name or gender marker is essential, according to Frigon.
“Being able to have ID that represents yourself… You’re able to open a bank account, you’re able to rent an apartment and it allows you to escape a lot of discrimination,” she said.
For many, it’s a question of survival.
“It allows you to survive in the city. It allows you to escape so much violence,” Frigon said.
For Frigon, the march isn’t just about effecting political change, it’s also a celebration.
“It’s just a way to celebrate trans lives and the fact that trans people are still alive,” she said.
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