Our Statement in Support of the Trans and Non-Binary Communities

Dec 8 2017

"Tolerance of hate speech is not tolerance borne by the community at large. Rather, it is a psychic tax imposed on those least able to pay."  - Mari J. Matsuda

SASC recognizes that the principle of freedom of speech is meant to benefit all. However, the reality is that those with privilege benefit from it more and at the expense of others. People with less privilege experience barriers to engaging in these conversations. Because of this power differential, they often do not feel safe to engage, and they may experience repercussions or face violence when they do. They are routinely silenced.

Discussion on free speech can also be co-opted to further the agenda of those who seek to oppress the rights, and very lives, of those already marginalized. If you have amongst your “free speech” allies, groups known for promoting oppression and hate, you should take pause and reconsider your position.

We stand with the trans and non-binary communities at Laurier and throughout Waterloo Region in seeking and expecting safe learning and work spaces. The voices of those who have been historically oppressed and silenced are also the ones most impacted by discussions on the validity of certain pronouns and their use. Questioning and/or denying someone’s gender identity is not harmless; it is transphobic, part of the spectrum of gendered violence, and seeks to erase someone’s identity.

Critical thinking first and foremost begins with considering your own position of power and how you might be causing harm. It is not the responsibility of those experiencing harm to teach us how this dialogue is harming them. If you are not trans or non-binary, educate yourself and strive to be an ally. Listen to diverse voices within trans and non-binary communities, and use your platforms to amplify them.

SASC seeks to provide a safe and supportive space for persons of all genders who have experienced gendered violence. Our 24 Hour Support Line at 519-741-8633 is available for all those who might need to talk.

In solidarity,

Sara Casselman
Executive Director
Sexual Assault Support Centre of Waterloo Region

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