Vancouver: Homophobia/transphobia and ethnic communities

(As posted to my Gazette blog on Thursday)

“Ethnic Chinese protest LGBT programs again”

I must admit that headline on a Vancouver Sun blog item about a school board’s gender policy initiative caught my attention recently. I had images of immigrants moving in to the Vancouver area and discriminating against LGBT youth. Hey, this is Canada, I thought. Not China. I posted an item about it, and pointed readers to the Vancouver Sun item.

Then I posted another blog item here asking Vancouver trans people to tell me about transphobia they are experiencing in that city. No, I didn’t mention the Vancouver Sun item or ethnic communities in that post. It was a general question. But, yes, I was digging a little . . . I was curious.

Well, I did not receive a flood of emails complaining about ethnic Chinese people discriminating against trans folks. In fact, I only received one response — about workplace discrimination, and I passed that letter on to a newspaper contact there to investigate.

Now, there’s a good piece by Craig Takeuchi on Vancouver’s Straight.com site under the heading Ethnicity and LGBT issues: When homophobia and transphobia are linked to race.

Linked unfairly, I might add.

Here are a couple of excerpts, but I do recommend you read the whole article, especially if you — like me — live thousands of miles away from Vancouver and were wondering just what the heck is going on there after hearing reports of anti-LGBT protests involving “ethnic Chinese people.”

Writes Craig:

Racism repeatedly rears its ugly head in homophobia and transphobia issues whenever individuals involving “ethnic communities”, particularly visible minorities, are identified. Even within LGBT communities, racist sentiments are expressed against ethnic groups when gaybashers are revealed to be visible minorities.

Unfortunately, relying upon visual information about identities can be problematic as that’s only one part of the story and other, often invisible, information may be ignored.

When gaybashers, for example, are from a visible ethnic minority, it is all too easy—not to mention simplistic and reductive—to associate their actions with their racial identity. Compare this with white gaybashers, who could be recent immigrants, from a particular religious group, or have other ethnic or cultural commonalities. Why are not the same associations made?

And this:

What compounds this problem is that not much media attention is given to individuals from ethnic communities who are fighting for LGBT equality. Often, these individuals remain invisible or less visible than those who are against LGBT issues.

And then Craig proceeds to cite examples of “pro-LGBT individuals who are Chinese Canadians and have taken action to speak out in favour of LGBT rights and awareness.”

Thank you for the enlightenment, Craig . . .

– Jillian

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s