There is a disquieting swell of transphobia here on Prince Edward Island this month, a movement by a small group of parents targeting the Guidelines for Respecting, Accommodating and Supporting Gender Identity, Gender Expression and Sexual Orientation in our Schools.
Gender identity, gender expression, and sexual orientation are challenging concepts for cisgender heterosexual people like me to confront: I was raised by atypically progressive gay-positive parents, but I grew up in a culture that was completely unaccepting and incurious of anything related to the life of 2SLGBTQIA+ people, and frequently dismissive of, and injurious and violent toward, anyone with the tenacity to express their true self publicly.
I am not a model of solidarity; I am an imperfect ally. But I am trying, I am listening, I am reflecting on my own biases, and my part in spreading a cis- and hetero-normative worldview.
I am the proud father of Olivia, an autistic trans-woman. Olivia has worked so hard to find her way toward a way of being in the world that is true to herself, against tremendous pressure to not do so. The intersectional challenges of being trans and neurodivergent are formidable, and the very notion that an autistic person is fully and completely capable of agency over her gender expression, gender identify, and sexual orientation is something she receives pushback on from almost every direction.
When people rally against guidelines that call for my daughter and her peers to be respected, accommodated, and supported, they are engaged in an act of intolerance. They are tacitly saying “we don’t accept you, Olivia.” They are piling on to the mountain of hatred, violence, rejection that makes living life as a trans person so arbitrarily, unnecessarily difficult.
When we choose intolerance over love, ignorance over education, we are not only building prisons for others, we are imprisoning ourselves, cutting ourselves off from the liberating notion that we can all be freed from expectations that how our gender and sexuality manifest should exist in a restrictive narrow band.
Former Prince Edward Island Premier Wade MacLauchlan frequently called Islanders to look to our “better nature,” and this is clearly a time we should heed that call: let us all seek to love all our neighbours, even if—especially if—we are frightened by parts of them we struggle to identify with, to understand. Through dialog, curiosity, courage, openness, we can stanch that fear, that ignorance, and march forward together.
I love my daughter, all the parts of her, all of who she is and is becoming. Please join me.
What?! Another Nail in the coffin!
I meant so say Another nail in the coffin of a week!
I join you in affirming and supporting Olivia, whom I have only met once in person but whom I have know about and followed for many years now through your writings and her own as well. I might live 4500 kms away but please know, Olivia and Peter, you have a supporter and an ally in me.
Beautifully written by a father that loves his daughter unconditionally. I fully support and admire both of you!
Well said! I join you in your life-affirming stance. As the old Youngbloods song says:
“Love is but a song to sing
Fear's the way we die
You can make the mountains ring
Or make the angels cry
Though the bird is on the wing
And you may not know why
Come on people now
Smile on your brother [and sister]
Everybody get together
Try to love one another
Peter and Olivia - I choose love and am an ally. Thinking of you, xox
So week and thoughtfully said.
I am an imperfect ally as well feeling sadness lately of not understanding why we have to be so 'narrow' as yiu out on our views of this topic.
Olivia has taught me so much and I love her too my cousin our family .
Love is Love is Love.
Let us celebrate the call to act out our 'better nature' , your words have renergized me that we can and should and will overcome intolerance with Love.
Would you consider making this ' shareable ' for social media 'muskoka' would benifit from them too
Thank you for sharing this. We join you in believing that "Through dialog, curiosity, courage, openness, we can stanch that fear, that ignorance, and march forward together." Sending you and your family love.
Very well written.
We had a lot of confusion and worry when that agenda item popped up in our area and were attempting to rapidly form a response (and posse) to speak at the meeting. We thought of reaching out to you to help us understand what was happening as I sure didn't get who the group was bringing this motion forward. We will stay ready to speak and having words like this as inspiration helps!
Yes, I join you. I’m way more furious than I am saddened. The nerve of these weasley people so full of fear and hatred that they want to condemn all our children to be live in the same fear and hatred. Shame on them.
I love your words, your comments, your love of community, your unconditional love for Olivia and your well exemplified portrayal of what love is. I love you both.
Strong, passionate and affirming words Peter. It’s the small mindedness, the jaundiced, fearful ones we live among who really seem to ruin it for the rest of us who live with imagination, sincerity and inclusiveness. The only way to overcome fear is through love. And maybe some courage too.
If this were the US, I would expect sudden mysterious expert pushback like this was funded and organized by outside agents of an extreme conservative organization working to change national politics. Not that I’d wish that on you, but to me it seems like it would be nicer than worrying these are your neighbors.
Thank you for writing this, Peter, and thank you for being a true ally and support to Olivia. We in the Queer community need more allies like you - people who will speak up and act when the need is there. Too frequently, cis-het folks consider their job done simply, from their perspective, by not doing harm. We all know, of course, that silence/inaction is one of the deadliest, most insidious forms of harm.
Thank you Peter. Written from the heart ( as usual ).
I'm an imperfect ally, and working every day to open my mind and heart wider.
Thank you for your words