Winnipeg advocate urges need for action to fight transphobia

Taylor Lakhryst, who is a transgender woman and advocate, says there is an urgent need for action in the fight against transphobia. Alex Karpa reports.

Taylor Lakhryst is a transgender woman living in Winnipeg. She is also an advocate and storyteller in the city.

Lakhryst says she has experienced firsthand the abuse and violence gender-diverse people face in society and says there is an urgent need for action and ally ship in the fight against transphobia.

“It’s depressing when you reach out to a bunch of people and nobody, for someone who even saw your smile,” said Lakhryst.

Lakhryst transitioned three years ago. Besides a small group of friends she trusts, Lakhryst says she lost most of her family and friends she had.

“I disassociated from my family, maybe in a rough way. If I can figure myself out, I’m sure other people can figure themselves out too and I just don’t have the space in my life to coach people and teach them how to love. People who I thought were my best friends, gone. People who I thought were my allies completely ghosted.”

Lakhryst says it’s depressing to be a transgender woman in Manitoba today.

Recently, a delegation in Manitoba’s second largest city, Brandon, has called for the removal of 2SLGBTQ+ and sex education books from the school system – a trend that is on the rise across the country.

On Tuesday, People’s Party of Canada Leader Maxime Bernier announced a new policy on what he says is “radical gender ideology” saying “The normalization of transgender ideology, particularly amongst our youth, will have a catastrophic impact on a generation if we do not reverse course soon.”

Lakhryst says it’s disheartening to see that transphobia continues to escalate.

“It’s happening because it is getting allowed, it’s getting permissed. It’s not even about getting legislated against, it’s people don’t care.”

Ahead of Pride week in Winnipeg, the Manitoba government announced it will create a new gender-equity office to coordinate services for the 2SLGBTQ+ community.

Pride Winnipeg will also be receiving $250,000 in dedicated annual support which will staff new positions and support other Pride organizations in Manitoba.

“Over 36 years ago, we saw people walking down Portage Avenue fighting for basic, equal rights. Now three decades later, we are one step closer to celebrating equal rights across the province and creating space to better be our authentic selves,” said Barry Karlenzig, president of Pride Winnipeg.

Manitoba Premier Heather Stefanson plans to walk in the parade this year but will not be invited to speak. Stefanson skipped last year’s Pride event.

“It was wrong, and we recognized that. I have been working very closely with the community since then, to make sure that we get things back on track here in Manitoba. I think this announcement today is very significant for Manitoba,” the Premier explained.

Lakhryst says she doesn’t feel safe. She says it’s frustrating that in 2023, she has to fight for equality and justice, but says she will continue the fight for that as long as she needs to.

LAKHRYST (Taylor Lakhryst, Transgender advocate, and storyteller in Manitoba) OC: “Believe trans people’s experiences; believe them when they say they are not being heard; believe them when they say they are not getting the support that they need and then follow that up with what can I do to help you get that?”

VO: Pride week in Winnipeg starts on May 26 and will last until June 4, with events happening all throughout the week.

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