We thank LGBT YouthLine for highlighting the connection between queer and trans organizing and Palestinian solidarity; we want to echo their message for Trans Day of Remembrance (TDOR).
TDOR was created by Gwendolyn Ann Smith, to honour Rita Hester, a Black transgender woman who was murdered in 1998, and whose murder remains unsolved. It is a day for trans and gender diverse communities to come together and grieve those that we have lost to anti-trans violence and bigotry.
This year on TDOR, we remember everyone murdered through the violence of colonial occupation, whether directly by weapons and bombardment, or indirectly by the coordinated obstruction of the necessities of life.
Colonization harms gender diverse people. On this side of the world, the violent imposition of the gender binary, through colonial projects like the Indian Act, Canada’s residential ‘school’ system, and its Indigenous reserve system, which was a precursor and inspiration for South African Apartheid, is directly responsible for the barriers trans people experience in living their lives on their terms. Just as colonization harms trans people here, it harms trans people in Palestine.
We have signed onto the Voices4 London statement along with over 1,400 other queer and trans organizations and individuals calling for an immediate ceasefire, the safe return of Israeli hostages and imprisoned Palestinians, and an end to the occupation of Palestine.
We have watched as queer identities, pride flags, and appeals to Western 2SLGBTQIA+ communities have been weaponized against Palestinians, Muslims, and racialized communities as a whole. Israeli propaganda attempts to present its occupation as a bastion for queer rights, while dehumanizing and othering Palestinians as homophobic. This is known as pinkwashing; it is blatant colonial rhetoric. The occupation can justify its atrocities and hide its own anti-2SLGBTQIA+ activity, under the cover of ‘bringing freedom’ to a population it construes as less ‘civilized’. We vehemently oppose this racist narrative. We cannot hope to create welcoming and safe spaces in our local communities for Black, Indigenous, and racialized queer and trans people if we allow this rhetoric to go unchallenged. In the words of @queersinpalestine:
We refuse the instrumentalization of our queerness, our bodies, and the violence we face as queer people to demonize and dehumanize our communities, especially in service of imperial and genocidal acts.
Locally in Hamilton, two elected officials, who are deeply appreciated and supported within the community, have experienced attempts to restrict their ability to voice solidarity with Palestine. MPP Sarah Jama was censured in the provincial legislature and ousted from the Ontario NDP and HWDSB Trustee Sabreina Dahab is being investigated by HWDSB’s Board of Trustees.
As a trans health organization, we work with people who experience backlash and harassment for speaking out in support of trans youth and gender-affirming care. We understand the risks that individuals take when speaking out against oppression, and we are grateful to both MPP Jama and Trustee Dahab for their advocacy.
We work directly with healthcare providers around improving access to healthcare for gender diverse communities. Concurrently, we are witnessing healthcare providers in Gaza go to heroic and extraordinary lengths to provide healthcare to wounded and sick Palestinians, amidst bombardment and the forced collapse of their healthcare infrastructure by the Israeli siege. At the time of writing, over 200 healthcare workers in Gaza have been killed. In recognizing the wide-reaching impacts of colonization, we cannot support gender-affirming care for trans people here, without supporting healthcare access for all Palestinians. Finally, we want to express our utmost support and care for queer and trans Muslim and Jewish communities. We know many of you have been on the front lines of protests and advocacy. Amidst attempts to pit faith communities against each other and against queer people as a whole, the solidarity that you have shown over the past month is inspiring and humbling.
Hamilton Trans Health Coalition