Walking through the city has a different ease for me in recent years. The braided sidewalks of the downtown area, rumbling from the energetic footsteps of busy Vancouverites and diverse travelers has, of lately, given enough space for people like me to exist. Trans folk, who previously existed in the cracks of society, have reclaimed space in the identity of the city. Like many folks lost in the in-between of authenticity and acceptance, existing and navigating in the open has its internal struggles and external dangers. Yet in Vancouver, being open about our transness has produced less confusion or abandonment from our communities. Our city is evolving. As more trans folk become visible, the more Vancouver has held itself accountable for our well-being and acceptance.
Despite our right to exist still facing its challenges (politically and socially), trans folk are finding the courage to emerge out of their shells as their authentic selves. We are glittering the diversity of the city with our own unique gender expression, within and beyond the gender binary. Of course, we owe this rising trend of openness and courage to our glorious gender rebels who have preceded us the transmen, transwomen, non-binary, Two Spirit, gender fluid and intersex folk who paved the way for progress, as well as incorporated their gender truths into our everyday lives.
The city has always been a blank canvas, painted by the people who populate it. Not just in our contrasting architecture of old and modern Vancouver, or the commissioned murals and daringly executed graffiti in our alleyways, skateparks, and buildings. It comes from our willingness to dare to be ourselves. Through courage and community, we, as trans folk, are now more so than ever incorporating ourselves into the portrait of Vancouver. Inspiring artwork in our city streets, and gender inclusive spaces in the framework of our society and institutions. As well as inspiring, not just other trans folk to be themselves in whatever beautifully nonconforming way they’d like, but for anyone one who dares to test the bounds of their identity, adding to the portrait of Vancouver which encourages authenticity and inclusivity.
By June Diaz