Education key for transgender acceptance, say advocates

A transgender woman living in Windsor says education is key in order for people to understand issues facing the LGBT community.
Lorraine Sayell says education is needed to eliminate discrimination. (Rima Hamadi/CBC)

A transgender woman living in Windsor says education is key in order for people to understand issues facing the LGBT community.

Lorraine Sayell said a recent incident involving a genderqueer individual — who doesn't identify as male or female — being refused service, is one of the many struggles the community has to go through.

Sayell volunteers with the Windsor Pride Community Education and Resource Centre and says education is the key to eliminating discrimination within the LGBT community.

"Particularly in the last five years or so, the issue of transgender has become very public," Sayell said. "It is very much talked about both in positive and negative terms. So, this is something that is not going to go away. We have to get ahead of it."  

"Others is not restricted to ethnicity"

And for Sayell, the classroom is where it should begin.

"It starts in the schools and in the acceptance of differences," Seyell said. "I think students need to be aware that there are different races, colours, religions, customs, and also gender identity."

Sayell recognizes that Windsor has a positive record of accepting other cultures and races, particularly refugees.

Now, it's time that includes the transgender community as well, Sayell said.

"What we really have to do is to expand the definition of others to realize that others is not restricted to ethnicity," Sayell said. "It also includes others of sexual orientation, others of different gender expressions and different gender identities."

Education is happening

Anne Forrest, the director of women's studies at the University of Windsor, says we need to talk about issues the LGBT community is dealing with, in order to create a better environment for all. 

Forrest said one person coming forward means there are probably many more who face similar struggles.

"It's a very large step forward to try and move the public discussion in a way to acknowledge that there is an issue that needs to be addressed," Forrest said. "As opposed to just thought about." 

Forrest adds that discrimination towards the LGBT community are social issues that we all have to engage in. Adding the community at-large needs to stop thinking of these rights as legal obligations but social norms.