by Sarah Graham, Coordinator - City of Victoria Youth Council
“For trans people, existence is a form of resistance. Society is steeped with so many messages about what makes a “boy” and what makes a “girl”, to be who you are is an act of strength.” says Alyx MacAdams, Victoria Sexual Assault Centre’s Trans Inclusion Coordinator, who identifies as genderqueer. For Alyx, being genderqueer involves identifying as neither man nor woman as well as using the pronouns they and them.
As a young person Alyx attended Camp Thunderbird and says, “the experience of being outside has been integral to finding my gender identity. There are no men’s and women’ spaces outside, there are no binaries; the trees are not making assumptions about your gender.”
Alyx started working with young people at Camp Thunderbird and, after starting at McGill University, at the campus sexual assault centre. Living in Montreal exposed Alyx to social justice activism and a supportive community where they could come out as trans.
There are no men's and women's spaces outside, there are no binaries; the trees are not making assumptions about gender.
A couple years after moving to Victoria, Alyx started working for the Victoria Sexual Assault Centre (VSAC) in the newly formed Trans Inclusion Coordinator position. VSAC supports survivors of sexualized violence through healing, education, and prevention services. Through feedback from community, VSAC made the decision to expand their services from supporting women to supporting trans and non-binary people as well.
This year, VSAC received funding to run a Trans Inclusion Workshop Project that brought together 12 trans people to develop and deliver workshops. Alyx explains that coming together as a group of trans people can be an uncommon experience and for some “they had never been in a room with so many trans people.”
In early June, Alyx and another facilitator delivered a workshop to the Youth Service Providers Network, including the City of Victoria Youth Council, which was hosted by BC Healthy Communities. The workshop challenged participants to alter their perspectives on gender and to commit to making changes to their programs.
Generously funded by the Victoria Foundation and Vancouver Foundation, the Workshop Project is wrapping up soon and Alyx worries about the challenges of finding more funding for trans inclusion work. There are very few, if any, other people in town doing funded work on the subject, which appears to be in direct contradiction to the needs of a community that is hungry for knowledge.
For Alyx, reaching out to trans youth is an integral part of building up services in Victoria. This year a group of local queer and trans people have been working hard to start a drop-in program for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Questioning, and more (LGBTQ) youth, and thanks to support from Saanich Parks and Recreation, it will begin this fall. It appears that VSAC and Alyx’s efforts have contributed to making Victoria more inclusive for people of all genders.
“There are many trans folks who do amazing work and advocacy in community that is unrecognized,” explains Alyx , “this gives me a deep sense of responsibility to Victoria’s incredibly diverse trans community. I hope to continue acknowledging and giving value to their voices.”
Alyx has been inspired by colleagues and community dedication to expanding knowledge about trans communities, to understanding gender binaries, and to addressing the barriers trans people experience.