Transgender Awareness Week flag raising. (Photo by Allanah Wills).Transgender Awareness Week flag raising. (Photo by Allanah Wills).

President of CK Gay Pride Association reflects on Transgender Awareness Week

A week of reflection regarding acceptance is coming to an end but there is still a lot of work that needs to be done moving forward.

The president of Chatham-Kent's Gay Pride Association said although Canada and the area have made strides in accepting those who identify as part of the LGBTQ community, it's still a work in progress.

A flag raising ceremony was held at the Civic Centre in Chatham this week to mark Transgender Awareness Week. As part of the week, November 20 was observed as Trans Day of Remembrance.

The newly elected president of the local Gay Pride Association, Chris Couture, said it's important to recognize that trans rights are human rights.

"Our trans community needs to know that we're there to support you, we're there to fight for you, we're there to advocate for your rights," said Couture. "For the wider community, I think we just need to know acceptance is what we have to do. We accept somebody for who they are."

For the most part, Couture said the feedback from the community regarding the flag raising ceremony has been positive.

"I think people don't understand transgender issues," he said. "So it sparks some conversation... The more talking we do, the more understanding we get, the more acceptance we get."

Although Couture considers Canada to be very progressive when it comes to transgender rights, there are still improvements to be made in achieving equality -- especially in Ontario. Those comments were mirrored in Windsor this week during a memorial and film-screening.

Ontario's PC government had recently passed a resolution to remove gender identity from the school curriculum. The resolution has not gone through the proper stages to become law. Couture said to consider transgender as an "ideology" is wrong.

Closer to home, Couture said he does appreciate the support the Gay Pride Association has received.

"I thank the [municipality] for taking a progressive stance on LGBTQ rights in general, especially trans rights," he said. "They've been supportive through this whole process and I can't be more proud to be a Chathamite."

This is the third year that a flag raising for Transgender Awareness Week was held in Chatham.

-With files from Allanah Wills.

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