The organizers behind a popular and inclusive party for trans women in Montreal are worried about the LGBTQ2 community’s safety after they were the target of online threats.
Eve Parker Finley, who runs the monthly Trans Amour event, told Global News a Facebook user left a string of comments on a posting on the group’s social media page in late June.
“It really went on a big transphobic rant,” she said. “Calling us mentally ill and calling us degenerates and things like that.”
The comments then escalated to threats of violence, according to Parker Finley.
Screenshots provided by the organizers show the Facebook user saying in French, “You can invite me if you want…I can come with a friend.” Along with that comment, he posted a link referencing the Pulse nightclub shooting, where a gunman killed 49 people in Orlando, Florida in 2016.
“That really freaked us out because while we’re not afraid to exist in public, this is a very real threat of violence and we want our community to be safe,” said Parker Finley.
Trans Amour is a monthly event for trans women to come together to meet, dance and have fun in a safe space. It also serves as a fundraiser for Taking What We Need, an organization that helps low-income trans women in Montreal.
The threat against the inclusive event and the LGTBQ2 community is one that wasn’t taken lightly by the organizers and the venue. The staff of Brasserie Beaubien, where Trans Amour is held, quickly contacted Montreal police.
“They have been informed, a call was placed and then a follow-up email with the screenshots of the threats,” said James Goddard, an event booker at the bar.
While organizers say they feel it was important to report the threats, Parker-Finley says they have not heard back from the city’s police force.
Montreal police would not comment on the specific incident, but said in a statement that all threats are treated seriously.
Party will go on, vow organizers
Trans Amour organizers say part of the reason they are speaking out is because they allege the Facebook profile — which was flagged and reported — also posted content including neo-nazi imagery.
“Yes it’s on the internet, but you can never know what can happen,” said Estelle Davis, an organizer with Taking What We Need.
“We wanted to make sure that we protected ourselves but we also wanted to stand up and fight back against anti-trans sentiment as well as this sort of alt-right, racist, anti-LGBT movement that is forming.”
Trans Amour will go on as planned later this month, but the event’s name has been changed to “Not going anywhere.”
Safety is the priority for both party coordinators and bar staff. Brasserie Beaubien is looking at extra precautions for that night, such as security.
“I guess one of the things that’s sort of scary from our perspective is that having a bouncer or somebody at the door checking people and bags isn’t really going to be sufficient in this context,” said Goddard.
“Somebody threatened to bring a machine gun and assault and attack our establishment and the people in it.”
While organizers say they are worried in the wake of the threats, they have no plans to cancel the party. Trans Amour is calling for community support and solidarity, according to Davis.
“We are still going to show up and we are still going to live our lives because that’s the only way we can actually do anything about this situation,” said Parker Finley.
WATCH BELOW: Protecting trans and gender-diverse youth
— With files from Global News’ Brayden Jagger Haines