EXCLUSIVE: Transgender people are murdered at a surprisingly high rate in Canada. So we asked an LGBTQ safety expert if lack of public acceptance was to blame

Canada was recently called the best place in the world for an LGBTQ+ person. But is this the end of the story? We put the question to Asher Fergusson, who recently researched over 350 hours of each country’s laws. With the help of a professional researcher, he collected data from various reliable international sources to create the definitive “LGBTQ+ Travel Safety Index”. He writes more often about how queer people can stay safe no matter what country they are in.

6ixBuzz: Are there aspects of LGBT rights that Canada has forgotten despite its great acceptance?

Asher Ferguson: “Of the 203 countries in our study, Canada is #1 in terms of LGBTQ+ rights. Canadian citizens enjoy more LGBTQ+ protections than any other country in the world. »

However, he quickly notes that “no country is perfect”.

For example: in Canada, gender specialists must be psychiatrists and they are the only ones who can issue a letter that admits a person to a waiting list for a surgical evaluation. This regulation limits the number of providers that transgender people can access. If general practitioners, social workers and nurse practitioners could also be authorized, after training, to become gender specialists, more transgender people could easily access care.

Increasing access to gender-affirming surgery and related treatments/medications is one way Canada can become even more queer-friendly.

OWhat are the current risks for a transgender vacationer hanging out in Canada, staying in hotels, catching Ubers and public transportation, etc.?

“Canada ranked poorly for trans murder rates, ranking 40th in the world with 0.239 murders per million population. Although transgender legal identity laws are progressive, this does not necessarily mean that transgender people are not at risk of discrimination in Canada. Universal travel safety precautions are always advised.

Fergusson has published an in-depth travel safety guide written by a panel of LGBTQ+ travelers.

To make it safer, is there anything the government could do? Or is it more of a cultural problem solved by things like positive representation?

“Some Canadian jurisdictions have been slower to enact protections than others. For example, a national ban on conversion therapy did not go into effect until January 2022. Prior to this year, it was not banned in several territories.

When it comes to safety and rights, how important is the public acceptance factor?

“Public acceptance plays a huge role in LGBTQ+ safety. Perception and acceptance will often determine whether legislation will pass (through voting, lobbying lawmakers, donations, etc.), and this has also an impact on how the legislation will be passed. implemented. Just because something is legal doesn’t mean it’s enforced. »

“Many of the countries in our study look ‘good’ on paper, but the everyday experiences of LGBTQ+ people in those countries don’t necessarily match the supposed ‘rights’ they have. If community members, law enforcement, and even the justice system turn a blind eye to the harms and injustices being committed, legal protections don’t really help.

“Positive portrayal is a very powerful tool to help build self-esteem in marginalized groups, but it also has a ripple effect by increasing wider social acceptance.”

What is it about trans issues that you think “if the public knew, they would be supportive”?

“I think people would be more supportive if they knew more about the true stories of the trials and tribulations that trans people around the world go through on a daily basis.”

“In our research, we have been discouraged by the frequency with which trans people in many countries are pushed to the margins of society. In Latin America, for example, trans murder rates are astronomical (not to mention those who are probably vastly underreported and underresearched) because those who come out as trans are ostracized by their communities and families. Many are homeless, exploited and left to fend for themselves in communities and countries that vilify them.”

“Trans issues are not trivial; they are about safety, access to adequate medical care and the fundamental right to live free in a non-judgemental society like everyone else.

“It would also help if the public knew more about the real data on trans issues and not just get news and opinions from tabloid headlines.”