Category: Awareness

AwarenessResearch Project

On Thursday, February 5, 1981, just after 11 p.m., hundreds of Toronto Police Service officers, under the direction of the Morality Squad, conducted an operation known as “Operation Soap” to search four homosexual bathhouses in downtown Toronto. Three hundred men were detained; the magnitude of the arrests was startling. 

Numerous males who were held during the raids said that the police mistreated them severely, subjecting them to verbal abuse and physical assault. Detainees were typically herded into the venues’ bigger rooms—the showers or locker rooms—where they were made to stand undressed for hours. 

The GSRD community reacted less than 24 hours after the raids. More than 3,000 protesters marched to the streets on February 6, 1981. Chris Bearchell, a lesbian activist, reflects on the collective shock felt by the GSRD community and larger “progressive” community in the wake of the raids.  

“Women and men in the community went from disbelief to just rage.… Rather than letting that anger weigh us down—debilitate and demobilize us—we were able to channel it into a collective statement.” 
–Chris Bearchell 

Police were overrun by protesters, who forcibly occupied civic space without permission or predetermined agenda and vented their wrath. The GSRD community was done. After making their way across the city, the protesters turned their attention to the provincial legislature, where they nearly broke down the doors until police intervened and stopped them. 

We have a free lesson plan available about this event, suitable for grades 5 through 8. Share it with your teacher friends!

Awareness

Trey Anthony 
Trey Anthony identifies as an open and gay Black womyn. She is of Jamaican descent and was raised in Canada. She is an award-winning playwright, performer, and producer best known for her television series and play Da Kink in My Hair. She is the first Black woman in Canada to create and produce a tv program for a major network in prime time. 

Dr. OmiSoore Dryden 
Dr. OmiSoore Dryden, PhD is the fourth James R. Johnston Chair in Black Canadian Studies and the first queer person to occupy the position. Dr. Dryden is a staunch advocate and the creator of the research project #GotBlood2Give, which aims to identify the challenges that Black homosexual, bisexual, and trans males face while trying to donate blood in the Canadian blood system. 

Nalo Hopkinson 
Canadian novelist Nalo Hopkinson, who was born in Jamaica, is well-known for her science fiction and fantasy works. Nalo is the first author to win the Sunburst Award twice. Her work frequently draws on Caribbean language, history, and tradition. Nalo has won numerous awards and accolades, including the Prix Aurora Award (Canada’s reader-voted award for science fiction and fantasy) and the Sunburst Award for Canadian Literature of the Fantastic. 

Walter Borden 
Actor, poet, and writer – Walter Borden has performed on stages all around Canada. One of the first plays in the annals of Black Canadian literature to openly address issues of male homosexuality was the autobiographical piece Tightrope Time: Ain’t Nuthin’ More Than Some Itty Bitty Madness Between Twilight and Dawn, which he wrote and performed. 

Douglas Stewart 
Douglas is a gay rights activist who has dedicated his life to fighting for gay awareness and rights in the Black community. He was a founding member of Zami, Toronto’s first GSRD group, in 1984. In the 1980s, Zami was established to address problems brought on by “queer establishments.” He also served as the Black Coalition for AIDS Prevention’s first Executive Director. In his capacity, he campaigned in the 1980s to raise HIV/AIDS awareness within the black queer community. 

Courtnay McFarlane 
Most of his poetry, which has appeared in various African Canadian and Queer anthologies, is what makes him a famous gay visual artist and poet. He participates actively in volunteer work for groups serving the Black and GSRD communities, including Inside Out and the Black Coalition for AIDS Prevention. He shares Black GSRD tales via his craft in a profound yet sympathetic way. He is actively working to remove the obstacles that members of the underserved community must overcome in order to receive medical care. 

Cicely Belle Blain 
Blain is the CEO of Bakau Consulting Inc. and a non-binary writer. The business provides consultancy services on equity, inclusiveness, and anti-racism. They were also a founding member of Vancouver’s Black Lives Matter movement. They have been spreading awareness and promoting more inclusivity within Pride for the past few years. Their novel Burning Sugar is listed among the best GSRD books for Canadians to read. 

Awareness

Following the Red Army’s liberation of Auschwitz-Birkenau, the largest Nazi concentration and death camp, which occurred on January 27 1945, the world began observing a memorial day. According to historians, 11 million Jews as well as other ethnic Poles, Soviet citizens, prisoners of war, Roma, deformed people, and political and religious dissidents perished during the Holocaust. 

Today, historians believe (the numbers are still subject to debate) that up to 15,000 gay men were taken to Nazi extermination camps, where up to 10,000 of them perished. Lesbians also faced discrimination and violence, though it was less common and less organized than it was for homosexual men. 

The public tagging with symbols was a component of this methodical persecution. Jews were required to wear a yellow Star of David, while homosexual men began to be associated with a pink triangle. The concentration camp inmates were required to wear the hand-sized fabric patches on the left breast of their garments allowing identification from both soldiers and the general public. 

Awareness

The inaugural Trans Prisoner Day of Action and Solidarity, which takes place on January 22nd each year, was in 2016. The day was created by transgender prisoner Marius Mason in Texas (USA) to draw attention to the prejudice faced by trans inmates. 

Transgender individuals who are incarcerated endure stigma, physical and sexual assault, denial of medical care, and legal repercussions. Simply because they are transgender, many transgender persons spend months or even years in solitary confinement. Typically, transgender inmates are housed in male jails, which greatly increases their risk of sexual assault. 

On January 22, there will be a day of action to recognize the experiences of transgender and other sex- and gender-minority prisoners. It is about working together. It is about breaking through the isolation of incarceration and establishing new relationships. It deals with opposition against state violence. It concerns solidarity between those who directly encounter the system’s violence and those for whom the state has not yet arrived. 

Awareness

As January is National Blood Donor Month, it is perfect timing to touch on some new GSRD History! Just last April, Health Canada approved the submission from Canadian Blood Services to remove the criteria specific to men who have sex with men, and the implementation of the sexual behavior-based screening criteria instead. The sexual behavior-based screening will also be a required of all donors, regardless of gender or sexual orientation. This new screening took effect as of September 2022. Let’s take a look at the history of Canadian Blood Donations and GSRD individuals. 

The “worst-ever preventable public health disaster in Canada” occurred in the 1980s when at least 2,000 Canadians contracted HIV through blood transfusions. Due to the unfortunate correlation between HIV/AIDS and homosexual men at the time, an eligibility requirement was established that, as of 1992, prevented any male who had intercourse with another man since 1977 from giving blood. 

Although the requirements for eligibility changed a little over time, some gay, bisexual, and other men who have sex with men still found them to be a barrier. The criteria were revised in 2013, requiring a GSRD individual to wait five years after having sex with a male before donating blood; they were revised again in 2016, to a one-year delay; and in 2019, to a three-month wait. 

By September 30, 2022, GSRD-specific screening questions for blood donation will no longer exist. Instead, questions on sexual activity in the last three months and higher-risk sexual behaviours will be asked of everyone, regardless of gender identity or sexual preference. Health Canada called this change “a significant milestone toward a more inclusive blood donation system”. 

This adjustment is long overdue, according to many people in the GSRD community. The discriminatory ban’s need to be lifted has been advocated by the All Blood is Equal Coalition. Coalition Chair, Toby Whitfield expressed his viewpoint, saying, “The change in blood donor policies at Canadian Blood Services is long overdue and marks a significant victory in our efforts to end the discriminatory blood ban. For decades the blood ban perpetuated homophobic and transphobic discrimination against the 2SLGBTQ+ community. While our work will continue, today’s announcement is an important step towards righting this wrong.” 

Awareness

The CPHS wishes to remind everyone that January is Cervical Health Awareness Month, and that cervical health is a crucial problem for trans men and those who identify as genderqueer or nonconforming. Cervical cancer can affect anyone, which puts many trans guys and genderqueer/gender nonconforming individuals at risk. However, due to pervasive discrimination from healthcare professionals, trans persons frequently choose not to seek or are unable to get preventive treatment. Trans males who don’t receive preventative care are probably more prone to develop cervical cancer because the disease is avoidable by routine screening and treatment when necessary. 

Even if they do not engage in penetrative intercourse, trans guys and genderqueer/gender nonconforming individuals run the risk of developing cervical cancer. Human Papillomavirus (HPV), the main contributor to cervical cancer, is spread by genital skin-to-skin contact with infected individuals. Therefore, regardless of who you are or who you have sex with, if you have a cervix and are sexually active, you may be at risk for cervical cancer. 

Canadian Cancer Society Cervial Cancer Screening Questionnaire 

Lesbian, bisexual and Queer Women 

Those who are lesbian, bisexual, gay, queer, or otherwise sexually active with women: You should get screened for cervical cancer if you are sexually active and over 21. Cervical cancer can affect anyone who has one. You should obtain a Pap test if you’ve ever had genital skin-to-skin contact with anyone, regardless of gender. 

Get screened even if you: 

  • have no symptoms 
  • are no longer sexually active 
  • have only had one sexual partner in your lifetime 
  • have been through menopause 
  • have had the HPV vaccine 
  • have no family history of cervical cancer 
  • have only ever had sex with women 
  • have only ever had sex with trans men 

Trans Woman 

You might not have given Pap screenings and cervical cancer much thought if you’re a trans woman. Remember, you need a cervix—the structure that joins the vagina and the uterus—in order to get cervical cancer. 

If you are a trans woman who has not had bottom surgery, cervical cancer is not a risk for you. 

However, there is a very small chance that you could develop cancer in the tissues of your neo-vagina or neo-cervix if you’re a trans woman who has had bottom surgery to build a vagina (vaginoplasty) and possibly a cervix. Your personal medical history, the type of tissue utilized to build your vagina and cervix, and the sort of surgery you underwent all affect the risk. As part of your general pelvic health after surgery, discuss your unique needs for cancer screening with your healthcare practitioner. 

Trans Men 

Although none of us prefer to consider it, cervical cancer screening raises special concerns for many trans guys and others who identify as transmasculine/female to male/FtM. 

Making cervical screening a top priority can be challenging, particularly if the idea of having a cervix makes you uncomfortable. Perhaps you worry that you might encounter transphobia at the screening location. You could be concerned that getting a Pap test will be unpleasant or upsetting, or that it will exacerbate gender dysphoria. Or perhaps you simply don’t want to consider cancer. 

But if you’re a trans guy aged 21 or older who has ever had sex — with anyone — then you need to get screened for cervical cancer if you have a cervix. 

Your type of hysterectomy will determine this. You should speak with your healthcare practitioner if you are unsure of the type you had. 

  • Yes, you will require routine Pap tests if your cervix was completely or partially intact after your hysterectomy. 
  • You probably won’t require routine Pap tests if you underwent a total hysterectomy that removed your cervix AND you don’t have a history of malignant or precancerous cervical cells. 
  • If you underwent a full hysterectomy and have a history of cervical cancer or another precancerous disease, you might need to undergo vaginal vault or cuff smears until three consecutive tests show that you are cancer-free. 

Talk to your doctor about the necessity for and the timing of your screenings. 

rainbow umbrella in mass of black umbrellas
AwarenessSocial Media

The holidays are a stressful enough time of year, but for some within the GSRD community it can be harder as one may need to navigate their identity or family members as a group. While some of us have personally experienced this, others have been allies of our friends or family going through this period. Unlike Santa, we don’t have the means to make it around the world in one night, so we won’t be able to attend everyone’s family dinners as a supporter. Instead, we compiled a list of strategies to help you get through the most stressful time of the year.

Self-Care 
It can be simple to lose track of what you need amid the holiday commotion. Never forget to take a break and look after yourself. Taking a bath, going for a stroll, or enjoying a cup of your favourite coffee are all examples of self-care. It’s crucial to take the time to consider your needs before travelling or returning home for the holidays. 

Define Your Boundaries 
If it makes you more at ease, discuss a list of your restrictions and boundaries with the people you are about to see. Setting limits and discussing potential stresses with family members can help reduce stress. Doing this can help you feel prepared to deal with stressors that may arise, especially if you know some topics or behaviours come up consistently with family members. 

Your Feelings are VALID! 
The way that other people view your identities can be incredibly degrading and invalidating. Whether you are visiting a queer-friendly location or not, it is essential to affirm your own identities and experiences. Whether it be through podcasts, reading queer-affirming literature, or talking to a close friend. Prior to entering a setting that doesn’t respect your experiences, it is valuable to reaffirm your identity. 

Move at Your Own Pace 
The season of giving can feel rushed. Take your time and don’t worry if you can’t visit everyone or make it to everything. It’s okay to be late or miss something entirely because you need a moment. Do not feel obligated to do or be everything for everyone; instead, move at your own pace. 

Journal 
You can express your thoughts and ideas in a journal without having to worry about how they will come across to other people. If you are still in the closet or do not have close friends or family members who can support you, this may be useful. It can also assist you in taking stock of your sentiments and emotions as the holiday season progresses. 

Spend Time with your Chosen Family 
It may seem obligatory to see and spend time with your blood family during the Christmas season. Keep in mind that you are under no need to spend time with anyone you do not want to. The individuals you CHOOSE to travel through life with each day are your chosen family. They can be blood relations or someone else entirely. The season can be improved by spending time with individuals that value you and love sharing life with you. 

Create an Exit Strategy 
If you travel to a place where you have no support networks, it might be simple to feel stuck. Develop a plan for leaving a gathering at a specific time or stay in a hotel rather than with family members to avoid this, for example. You may have your friend call and make an excuse to get you out of that gathering. At the end of the day, you do not need to stand-by and tolerate discriminatory behaviour and have every right to leave an event you are no longer comfortable being at. 

Decompress 
The holidays can be very taxing, both mentally and emotionally, especially when we’re in unsettling situations. Decompressing and processing feelings and relationships after the holidays are important but doing so can be quite stressful. Set up a phone call, a lunch appointment, or just some devoted time to discuss the holidays with a supportive person in your life. 

Awareness

Human Rights Day is marked annually on December 10th, the day the UN General Assembly established the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in 1948. (UDHR). The Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) is a landmark declaration that affirms the intrinsic rights that every person has as a human being, regardless of race, colour, religion, sex, language, political viewpoint, national or social origin, property, birth, or any other position.

How to Get Involved

Watch a Film
A person or group of people cannot be discriminated against on the grounds of their race, ethnicity, colour, religion, age, sex, sexual orientation, family situation, or handicap, according to the Canadian Human Rights Act, which was passed by Parliament in 1977. In this carefully curated playlist, we look at some of the best movies that address these fundamental rights that everyone is entitled to.

Attend an Event
On this day, political gatherings, conferences, meetings, exhibitions, performances, and debates take place. Why not go to one and participate in the neighbourhood? No activity going on? Join forces with a local organisation to hold your own event to raise awareness of some of the global human rights issues that still exist.

Share A Story
There are human rights stories everywhere. View some of the human rights tales from the Canadian Museum for Human Rights’ Story Collection, both recent and historical. Maybe you could post one of the stories online and engage in dialogue with your followers, friends, and family.

Awareness

We commemorate National Pansexual Pride Day on December 8th and the efforts made by the pansexual and panromantic community to gain acceptance and understanding. When it comes to their romantic or sexual attraction to others, many pansexual persons now identify as “gender blind,” which is described as “not restricted in sexual choice with respect to biological sex, gender, or gender identity.”

Pansexuality has given the GSRD community and others the chance to challenge how we think about gender, sexuality, and romance. It also keeps the door open and welcome for everyone to explore their own identities.

How to Get Involved

Find a Local Event
To honor various members of the community, some school GSRD clubs or neighborhood pride organizations will host pride days or even a pride weekend. Find out if there are any Pan-Pride Day festivities in your region by contacting your neighborhood community center.

Educate Others
Helping to educate others about concepts like what the term “pansexuality” means and what it’s like to have this sort of identity is one of the simplest ways to commemorate this day. Online resource sharing, discussion about pansexuality with straight and queer acquaintances, and being receptive to inquiries are all recommended.

Highlight Pansexual Voices
Think about prioritizing their voices over your own if you’re not pan but still want to make your pan friends feel more welcomed. Giving someone a voice or a platform to speak about their lives and identities rather than speaking for them is what it means to “center” someone.

Awareness

Since its inception in 1945, the United Nations (UN) has outlined and reiterated its commitment to calling for the creation of inclusive, accessible and sustainable societies and communities – most notably with the adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in 1948.

It is also central to the promise of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development to leave no one behind. The commitment to realizing the rights of persons with disabilities is not only a matter of justice; it is an investment in a common future.

How to Get Involved

Join a Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion Workshop
The best way to ignite meaningful conversation is to host a DEI Workshop or Training session. Anyone can be affected by a disability, so it is key to open up the dialog of the importance of accessibility to cultivate an inclusive culture.

Improve Accessibility & Inclusion
In your day-to-day life, do an audit of Accessibility and Inclusion. Are there wheelchair ramps and lifts at your workspace, does your local coffee shop have Braille Signage? Use your voice to advocate for spaces that are welcoming to all, it’s important to cater to individuals of all abilities and consider how spaces may impact a disabled person.

Donate to a Local Charity
There are several organizations across Canada that work alongside people with disability to provide tools, information, and care support. Find a local organization and see how you can give back whether that be a monetary or volunteer donation.

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