Members of the transgender community marched through downtown streets in Halifax Wednesday evening to rally in the face of discrimination.
A group of about 100 people walked between the central library and the Halifax Common carrying signs that included slogans such as "Love your trans kids," "Eat gender norms for breakfast" and "You still think we don't exist."
The event was organized before U.S. President Donald Trump announced transgender individuals won't be allowed to serve in the U.S. military, but organizers said that made the timing all the more relevant.
Goal to increase visibility
"People are angry about it," said Kate Shewan. "To now say they're not valued is ridiculous and insulting and really perpetuates the stigma and discrimination that trans people have been suffering."
She said the challenges trans people face aren't unique to the United States.
People gathering for Halifax's Trans March, it starts at the library at 6. Celebration of the trans community esp today in response to Trump pic.twitter.com/cu8ef1cmru— @elizmcmillan
People often experience harassment, violence and struggle to find work in Canada, she said.
"The trans community has a long way to go to reach any type of equality because of those issues the community is facing. And it's really important to bring visibility to that and push back against that discrimination," she said.
Backlash to transgender rights
Gabriel Enxuga, another organizer, says there's been steps toward equality, such as federal legislation that would update the Canadian Human Rights Act and the Criminal Code to include the terms "gender identity" and "gender expression."
But with that, he said, there's also been a backlash, for instance, resistance to gender-neutral washrooms.
"I think what we're seeing is a wave of reactionary conservatism in the U.S. but also in Canada that's also transphobic," said Enxuga, another organizer.
"We also have to protect the victories.… It's really important for us to send the message that trans people are human beings, we deserve human rights. We deserve to be treated with respect and dignity."