‘Feels good to be seen’: Hundreds turn out for trans march in downtown Winnipeg

Transgender people and allies took to downtown Winnipeg streets in the hundreds on Saturday, showcasing visibility and solidarity at a time when trans rights are under attack in parts of North America.

The march, now in its sixth year, is held as part of the 2024 Pride Winnipeg Festival and dovetails with this year’s theme of “Transcend Together,” said Pride Winnipeg’s executive director, Sean Irvine.

Irvine pointed to clashes over trans rights elsewhere in Canada as evidence for why the march is important and needed.

“Right now there’s a lot of challenge for the trans community — they’re being pushed back,” Irvine said. “So it’s great that we’re advocating, moving forward and really trying to push that community and their message forward for equal rights.”

a blond hair person wearing a black T-shirt looks into the camera lens while surrounded by passersby.
Emily Turner said it was great to see so many transgender people celebrating openly on Saturday. (Travis Golby/CBC )

In Alberta, proposed new policies affecting student gender identity, youth gender-affirming surgeries and health care, and trans women’s participation in sports have come under fire.

In Saskatchewan, the provincial government last fall introduced a Parents’ Bill of Rights. It requires parental consent for children under 16 who want to change their names or pronouns at school.

The law is currently being challenged in court after the government used the notwithstanding clause in Canada’s charter of rights to enact it. The clause allows government to override certain fundamental rights, reviewable every five years.

“There’s a lot of people who are very hateful,” said Emily Turner of efforts in the U.S. and Canada to erode trans people’s rights. Turner spoke highly of having a safe space for transgender people to be out in the community and feel proud of who they are. 

The outward show of public support “kind of fills the heart with a bit of joy,” said Turner.

The march started at the Manitoba Legislature and made its way down Broadway to The Forks.

a young girl wearing a cap stands next to a woman with glasses. The woman has their arm around the girl. They are smiling.
Violet McAuley, left, and Laura Jones, right, said being at Saturday’s rally was a way to show the trans community that they care. (Travis Golby/CBC)

For Laura Jones and Violet McAuley, the atmosphere of kindness was notable, as was the opportunity to show support. They have a relative who is trans, they said.

The march is a chance “to show we’re behind them and that we’re allies and that we care about each other,” Jones said. 

“It feels good to be seen,” said Greysen Gauthier, who lauded Pride Winnipeg’s approach of having the trans march take place a day before the annual Pride parade.

“I think it’s so good to have visibility for every part of the community,” said Jonathan Biljardt.

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