Gender Diversity Week a “Life Raft” to those in Small Communities
In a world obsessed with upholding strict gender roles, celebrating gender diversity and acknowledging the many different ways to be human can be life-giving and even life-saving.
In a world where your parts often dictate your assigned place in society and right to hold space, current fads such as gender reveal parties, do not celebrate gender but rather genitals. With such events, we are telling the world our child’s parts, not their gender. Even before they take their first breath, we put expectations on our children that they may not want nor be able to live up to.
For someone in a smaller community, challenging the expectations placed upon them by the “M” or “F” on their birth certificate, is often difficult if not deadly.
Even in an age of unprecedented access to information and awareness of the world around us, difference is often met with resistance and sometimes even violence.
Through visibility, conversation, and celebration, we can break down the stigma of difference. By acknowledging that we are all unique and yet more alike than we are different, we can move to a place of understanding and acceptance.
Through initiatives like Gender Diversity Awareness Week, we can bring the lived experiences of gender diverse individuals into the spotlight and give voice to those often not heard in smaller communities. By gathering together, even at small public events, we take diversity out of the abstract, and bring the possibility of community into reality. To those who feel like they are the only ones out there, community brings hope like a life raft in a cold and lonely sea.
Through this week of celebration, let us come together to set afloat as many “life rafts” of hope as we can. Each one of us can play a part in gathering around and supporting those who are transgender, gender questioning, genderqueer, gender-fluid, or agender.
It is my hope that throughout this week, both allies and those who are starting their journey to understand gender diversity, would take the opportunity to let those who are gender diverse know that they are enough, they are loved and they are loveable.
With these small actions, we can move our communities forward. We can move away from a time where gender diverse people suffer in silence, carry the weight of emotional or physical violence, and seek to end their pain with addiction or suicide. We can move away from a time where gender diverse people have to hide their difference until they can flee their hometowns for the supposed “safety” of the large urban centre.
Through community, kindness and compassion, we can move to a new age where gender diverse people are welcomed and celebrated where they live by those around them–by family, friends, coworkers and society.
We can welcome a time where, even in the smallest city, town or village, all people can find community and be celebrated for their differences, not in spite of them.
This year, celebrate Gender Diversity Awareness Week with us and we can make 2017 the start of a new era—one where a single week of inclusion becomes a daily celebration of life.
Join Laura Budd in Moose Jaw on March 28 at 12pm for the Gender Diversity Charity Luncheon at St. Andrew’s United where she will be giving the keynote address. To purchase tickets or to find out about more Gender Diversity Awareness Week events in Moose Jaw, Yorkton, Weyburn & Estevan, please visit: www.moosejawpride.ca/events
Laura Budd is an impassioned Human Rights advocate and ally who is driven to create a society where all people are celebrated and respected. Based out of Yorkton, Laura is the Education Coordinator for Moose Jaw Pride and the Saskatchewan Pride Network.
Photo credit above: Amy Miller Franks