Authored by Nic C

Violence rooted in patriarchy is a well-known, well-documented problem. The violence that women face every day is often referenced, and it can take colossal effort for substantive change to take place with the aim of reducing that violence. Campaigns and initiatives like the “16 Days of Activism against Gender-Based Violence,” – which is under the global theme of “Orange the World: End Violence against Women Now!!” this year – is one such colossal effort. People all around the world mobilize to fight gender-based violence in whatever ways they are able.

I am an AMAB (assigned male at birth) trans non-binary person-my gender identity does not match that assigned to me at birth, and I do not fit cleanly into the gender binary. My experiences fit into the term of “gender-based violence” (GBV), and that’s something for which I am grateful. Broadening the struggle to be against all forms of GBV continues the work of not only fighting for women’s rights, but also recognizing other groups of people who suffer because of their gender identity or expression. It’s difficult to quantify how trans people in Canada experience GBV. Not because it isn’t recognized as a phenomenon, but because of the scarcity of disaggregated data. That data is even harder to come by when it pertains to non-binary, gender-fluid, genderqueer or other gender-diverse people.

The lack of data about people like me makes even beginning the discussion about violence that we face difficult. Being unable to come to the table with anything but personal experiences can make it difficult to legitimize the problem. The erasure that that can invite makes it so that youth who may identify that way have a much harder time expressing those ideas and seeing role models. Consequently, this can limit getting the support that they need, which can open them up to more violence and perpetuate the cycle. While these kinds of problems are very slowly changing, being included in actions like 16 Days helps lend weight to our voices and legitimacy or validity to our identities, it also opens the door for more productive conversations about our experiences and how to substantively address some of our needs.

Similarly to bisexual and pansexual people, non-binary, gender-fluid, genderqueer, and all of the other people that can find themselves under the trans umbrella while sitting outside the binary, the inherent ambiguity of our identities in the eyes of cis-gendered people and society means we get left out of the conversation about GBV frequently. One of the points of 16 Days of Activism Against Gender-Based Violence is that it includes everyone who suffers under patriarchal violence. That of course means women, but it can include men, it includes trans-femmes and trans-mascs, and it includes all the other people along the gender spectrum. By forging an inclusive movement, we have more collective strength, and we have more collective solidarity. It means that no single one of us is alone, and while we don’t all share the same experiences, especially when considering other intersectional identity factors, it does mean we can all approach the problem of GBV as a collective and push for change.