Pride Toronto will be platforming pro-police & prison politics at the Trans March Rally. They will be doing this by having Susan Gapka as a speaker and uncritically celebrating the 5th anniversary of Bill C-16, aka the Trans Rights Bill. This is a problem, because Susan Gapka is one of the most ardent supporters of police at Pride, and the second section of Bill C-16 supports the prison-industrial complex by adding additional criminal offenses.
We will be supporting one of the speakers (Kylie Brooks), while protesting another (Susan Gapka), and marching in the trans march with abolitionist messaging.
Note: Facebook page for this protest
We managed to negotiate with Pride Toronto to allow Kylie Brooks to speak. Kylie is a Black trans woman who moderates several online groups and is known for her radical politics. She will be speaking out against all forms of carceral and policing systems, and will talk about why we need to oppose the narrative behind bill C-16.
Internal struggles at Pride -- Pro-police (neoliberal) vs. Abolitionist (radical left):
Internally, Pride is in a struggle between neoliberal vs. radical left politics. While grassroots efforts by several queer and trans groups have replaced the leadership at Pride to kick out police, there are still some staff/members of Pride who hold neoliberal values. The push to have them replaced needs to come from the outside, and there is still need for the community to keep pushing towards deeper structural changes.
Susan Gapka is one of several members of the Trans March Committee who was brought in by the old leadership. The process of being on the committee is opaque, and the old leadership stacked the committee with neolibral trans members. The Trans March Committee should not have anyone on board who isn't abolitionist, and Susan Gapka along with a few others need to be replaced. We are protesting her politics and the politics of everyone who isn't abolitionist on the committee. We demand that they all be removed and replaced with police/prison-abolitionists, with priority going to lower class trans women of color.
Why Bill C-16 is Racist:
Bill C-16 aka the Trans Rights Bill amended two sections. While there is agreement that the first section is progressive (amending anti-discrimination laws), the second section (amending hate crime laws) is criticized by many leading trans organizations and trans lawyers (especially IBPOC) as a step in the wrong direction. Hate crime laws do nothing to protect those who are already marginalized in the criminal justice system. They also have little effect on reducing violence, because they only bring harsher punishments, instead of using transformative justice approaches that promote healing and education. On the other hand, hate crime laws are easy for politicians and neoliberal non-profits to exploit for photo ops and funding. They also empower the prison-industrial complex, where trans people are hyper criminalized, and where perpetrators get locked into a culture violence, leading to further anti-trans violence. This is the opposite of what the trans community needs.
Grassroots trans activists and organizations are calling for a radical change in narratives to push for much broader legal and political reforms to tackle violence against trans people. The emerging consensus is that we need to oppose hate crime laws, and instead push for extensive community-building, as well as anti-violence, educational, and transformative justice resources in communities.
Simply amending hate crime laws allows politicians to get away with a symbolic change that does more harm than good. We need to build pressure to create much more substantial resources that actually reduce violence. Come out to support the protest against the Pro-Police and Prison politics at the Trans March Rally, and then march with us to oppose all forms of carceral and policing systems.