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Inclusion Includes Education

Photograph of a galaxy, purple stars and some cloudy wisps, text on bottom says gender galaxy

One of the highlights for me about working at VSAC is facilitating workshops about gender and trans inclusion. I love talking about gender and there is something thrilling to me about sitting down with a room full of strangers, some new to the idea of gender being much more beyond how society typically describes “women” and “men” and others well aware of the complexities of gender (including their own). I love seeing people’s eyes light up when they realize the possibilities of exploring their personal gender identity and expression. I love talking about how gender is constructed throughout our lifetime; about how culture, class, colonialism, and so much more come in to play when we talk about gender. I always look forward to having these conversations and I constantly leave feeling refueled by the energy participants put in to these discussions!

Community education through facilitated discussions will always have a soft spot in my heart. Workshops are my root to being involved in anti-oppressive and social justice work. It was through a series of workshops developed during a training to volunteer at a sexual assault centre in Montreal that I learned how to put what I was experiencing and seeing in the world around me in to words. It was also through these workshops and conversations that I built community and friendships that I still lean on for support. To me the benefits of taking the time and the space to have workshops about gender and all forms of oppression extend well beyond the tangible knowledge that is gained during the hour and a half or so dedicated to these conversations. Workshops provide opportunities for people to experience the vulnerability of being new to something, inspiration to make meaningful change, and even foundations for building deeper relationships with our colleagues and with our communities.

Last week I was particularly honored to partake in a national webinar for the Forensic Nurses’ Society of Canada about caring for trans and gender variant survivors during forensic medical examinations. Thanks to one of our wonderful board members Kelly Branchi this is the second time I have been able to do a presentation with Forensic Nurse Examiners  and it has been so exciting to see how receptive and eager they are to make medical examinations accessible to trans survivors. I was also invited to do a workshop about trans inclusion with VSAC SART volunteers. Witnessing the dedication these volunteers have to making services accessible and supportive of all survivors of sexual assault was uplifting. There are so many exciting changes to come to better the support services we offer to trans survivors and I am delighted that we are laying strong foundations by starting with community education!

The plan over the next few years is to continue delivering trans inclusion workshops to our community partners and any others who are interested. Hopefully these will be followed up with tailored workshops that pertain directly to particular organizations or service providers. The more knowledge there is about gender the more we will realize how integral these conversations are to ending many forms of violence, including sexualized violence and gender-based violence. So let’s keep learning and growing together. If you are interested in having a workshop about trans* inclusion please get in contact with Alyx for more information!