Over the weekend, YWCA Regina, our keynote speaker and finalists of YWCA Women of Distinction awards were sent messages of transphobic hate. Unfortunately, this is not uncommon for the trans community as they disproportionately face verbal and physical harassment in our community and online. It is for this reason that we invited Fae Johnstone as our keynote speaker this year – YWCA Regina and Regina as a community need to have these discussions, we need to learn and we need to change.
In 2021, YWCA Regina’s Gender and Sexual diverse (GSD) framework outlined commitments to GSD inclusion and we have been working on changes to our organization’s governance, HR practices, processes and programs. This work is vital as YWCA serves Two-Spirit, trans, gender diverse and sexually diverse people in our shelters, affordable housing, harm reduction and community programs and we are committed to ensuring that spaces are available for folks experiencing homelessness, poverty, addictions, and violence. It is also vital that we do this work as many YWCA staff, leadership and board members are members of the GSD community. We have moved our commitments forward over the last few years but still have much work to do.
YWCA’s advocacy work is based on igniting equity for all women and this weekend’s events were a call to action that we need to do better at ensuring that this advocacy work centers trans women. We have learned that in addition to providing a platform, we also need to ensure that we have policies and procedures in place to make that platform safer. We also learned that in addition to bringing in speakers, we need to better support our local trans community. This week, we started the process to become a member of Trans Sask and will encourage other organizations to do the same.
We are committed to supporting local trans women when they experience transphobia and we will continue to provide grassroots services to people in crisis.
Melissa Coomber-Bendtsen, CEO YWCA Regina