Statement from Denise Christopherson, CEO, on the International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia

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Today is the International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia, a global movement dedicated to recognizing the violence and discrimination experienced by lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersex people.

This international day of advocacy was created in 2004 to commemorate the World Health Organization’s decision in 1990 to declassify homosexuality as a mental disorder. It is a reminder that we all must play a role in standing up and speaking out against discrimination, hate and violence – wherever and whenever it occurs.

Here at YWCA Hamilton, the International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia serves as an important reminder that we must continue to examine our own policies and practices to ensure they remain rooted in intersectional feminism, safety, equitability and accountability. We are actively reviewing, developing and strengthening gender-affirming policies and practices, and we are working with our community partners and other YWCA member associations to help us create a more inclusive environment for trans, non-binary, and gender-diverse people. 

Part of this work is recognizing that we don’t always get it right – but we are committed to doing better. To that end, we will be examining our existing ways of working and engaging with staff and stakeholders to develop new policies that will both reconcile and inform front-end and back-end experiences and touchpoints for our staff, our clients, and the community. We will continue to learn and evolve as an organization to ensure that everyone feels represented and supported in every facet of our work. It’s our responsibility. 

We are also proud to share more about a new program soon launching which centers intersectional awareness, community building and acting against racism and hate for youth and adults who are Indigenous, Black and racialized, and who identify as Two-Spirit LGBTQIA+. The program, Intersect/ACT, has two goals: to improve access to information and services related to addressing racism and hate, and to establish a coalition actively working towards addressing systemic racism with an intersectional lens.

We are very proud to deliver this critical program in partnership with the Hamilton Trans Health Coalition, ABRAR Mental Health and Compass Community Health and to welcome Sid Kirk as the program coordinator of Intersect/ACT. Sid joins us from speqtrum’s peer check-in program and is working on developing meaningful and collaborative workshops to build relations as we prepare for program launch in September.

Intersect/ACT considers that folks who face multiple forms of discrimination – based on their race, sexual orientation, age, immigration status, or disability – encounter inequality in different ways. Members of the Two-Spirit LGBTQIA+ community who are also Black, Indigenous, or racialized face unique experiences of violence and hate – experiences that may not be shared or understood by everyone.

Recognizing that hate is alive and well in our communities, and in our world, the first step to fighting it. We cannot point to episodes of hate in other areas of the world, such as the horrific act of white supremacy in Buffalo this weekend, and pat ourselves on the back because it didn’t happen here. Hate exists everywhere – in Canada, in Hamilton, and there continues to be incidents of hate in our communities.

It’s our duty, both as an organization and as individuals, to recognize hate in all its forms – to name it, to speak out against it, and to actively stop it from taking hold.

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