So where does this leave us and how do we move forward? At the University of Toronto, among other Universities in Canada, there are support systems and peer groups available for anyone who is need of them and wants help that way. There are also the people around you in your own social circles who can be a support for you.
Cathy Cohen talks about the ‘radical potential of queer’, and its “ability to create a space in opposition to dominant norms” (Cohen 1997, p. 438) where transformational political work can begin. We believe that such work begins on university campuses through LGBTQ+ student activism as we have seen in this case study.
It’s important to realize the steps that are already taking place, the fact that there is even a Bill C-16 to argue about was not possible not that long ago. However it is equally as important to recognize that just being written into already existing law is not enough. Just because someone is included it does not mean that they are in anyway equal to the rest of the structure around them.
It’s important to re-imagine and re-write the structures that keep certain groups of people out in the first place. That sounds like a lot and it’s obviously not going to happen overnight but it can be achieved through small changes at local university levels, and big changes like in laws, as long as we continue to advocate for one another and for the rights of one another.
To think that we will ever reach a point where no one will oppose people fighting for something may not happen, because in our current structure everything is reliant on power. That’s what this all boils down to at the end of the day, Peterson is afraid of power. He’s afraid of losing his, he’s afraid of giving more to trans people and he’s afraid that somehow by treating other people like an equal human being he will lose status. However we can see through all the counter resistance just how important it is to not be afraid to rightly seize power that one deserves, like equal opportunity and equal rights.
Many Universities are taking steps in being trans and non-binary inclusive, for example with gender-neutral washrooms becoming more common, non binary options under gender checkboxes being available on paperwork etc. It’s easy for us as students of UBC to be thankful for the fact that none of my professors have made any such comments, and forget about the fact that just last year at UBC a pride flag was burned during pride week. To ignore the many sexual assaults that happen on campus every year and how this all intersects with each other. This type of thinking however can lead to to belief and the complicity that because we do not attend U of T or because we do not think like Peterson we can relax.
Sometimes it’s easier, to think that we are not U of T so we’re lucky, or we’re not America and don’t have Trump as President so we can think ourselves as better. We can’t forget our own injustices that are happening under our very noses, we can’t feel bad for students of U of T but not do anything to support the students on our very own campus who are also feeling unsafe. We have to think beyond the structures that are in place to break the ideas of inclusion by the standards that are already in place.
Cohen, C. J. (1997). Punks, bulldaggers, and welfare queens: The radical potential of queer politics? GLQ: A Journal of Lesbian and Gay Studies, 3(4), 437-465