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'Solidarity Rally' held at Laurier to counteract growing transphobia

Last Updated Dec 10, 2017 at 3:35 pm EDT

570 NEWS - Erin Anderson

Students, staff, and supporters gathered at Wilfrid Laurier University on Thursday to show their solidarity with the transgender community.

The ‘Trans Solidarity Rally’ was held to counteract transphobia at Laurier’s campus, which some students claim has gotten worse since a ‘free speech rally’ was held in support of Teaching Assistant Lindsay Shepherd in November.

Shepherd’s story received heavy media coverage, as she was initially chastised by the University for playing a clip of a controversial debate on gender-neutral pronouns.

Toby Finlay with Laurier’s Rainbow Centre says they’ve received heavy backlash due to the incident and since they spoke out against Shepherd — and that’s part of why they organized a gathering to have their voices heard.

“The Rainbow Centre has been at the center of a lot of this violence, and this backlash, that has been taking place. We’ve been dealing with this issue since November 1, and continued to face harassment and violence as the situation escalated.”

The Rainbow Centre has since handed the University a list of demands, as they say Laurier hasn’t been providing adequate support to trans, non-binary, and gender diverse students.

“We’ve already seen some small wins and small steps after these demands were released, but we will continue to act out and speak up until these demands are fully realized.”

Finlay added that many people have asked for proof of this ‘transphobic’ violence at Laurier, but they believe they shouldn’t have to prove themselves, or relive their trauma.

“I fundamentally refuse to perform my trauma in order for other people to care about, or respect me. I refuse to become the victim that the alt-right simultaneously insists that I become and vilifies, I refuse for my truth to be contingent on the violence that I experience, and I refuse to dehumanize myself for this movement or trans-justice.”

One of the main demands that the Rainbow Centre has is for Laurier to release a public apology to trans and non-binary students. They say it’s for quote — ‘refusing to acknowledge how these events have perpetuated transphobia in their institution.’