Anti-trans protest meets pro-LGBTQ+ counter protest
September 20, 2023
the "1 Million March 4 Children" took to the streets of various cities in Canada.
In Kingston, despite protesters driving into the city to join, the "Million March" crowd was dwarfed nearly 2 to 1 by the pro-2SLGBTQIA+ crowd across the street who assembled for a counter protest.
Police were present on both sides of the street to ensure protests remained peaceful, with roughly 500 people in attendance at the height of the rallies.
The Million March 4 Children website describes themselves as a union of diverse backgrounds and faiths who advocate for the elimination of the Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity curriculum, pronouns, gender ideology and mixed bathrooms in schools.
On its website, the group takes issue with Bill C-16, the outlawing of conversion therapy, and asserts that gender dysphoria is "by-and-large transitory".
While the group's mandate says that it is "standing up to free our children from indoctrination", many in the crowd also brandished signs referencing Christianity.
The counter protest was organized by two drag queens, with the organizer identified as "BeeWitched" saying after catching wind of the initial "Slow Roll Million March" protest that she wanted to see Kingston as a community stand up to the movement.
"I know how important it is for trans kids and kids in the community to be called by their chosen name, their preferred pronouns and how important inclusivity is," BeeWitched said.
"I just wanted to encourage Kingston to show up with pride."
Million March protesters say the decision to teach kids about gender identity and sexual orientation should be up to the parents and not the schools, whereas counter protesters say those parents will simply choose to not to have those conversations with their children at all.
One of the Million March protesters named Ella says she fought for LGBT rights in the 70s and 80s, but doesn't believe people should be allowed to transition until 18.
Alongside health related claims that could not be verified including that the same hormones used on trans youth were created to suppress sexual instincts in pedophiles, Ella likened the experience of gender dysphoria to her own experience of wanting to be a nun as a child and now being atheist as an adult, and said children should just be left alone to grow up.
"Trans rights are human rights, of course they are, everybody has rights," Ella said.
"But children, come on... leave the children alone, let them grow up, let them decide for themselves."
Counter protesters argue that they, and schools, are trying to allow children to do just that.
BeeWitched says in years past, children were often just not given the choice to make a decision, and that parents protesting under the guise of parental rights are trying to restrict that decision making ability again.
She says she's personally experienced the detriment of not being permitted to be yourself.
"As a young teenager myself I wasn't allowed to be myself, I wasn't allowed to go by my chosen name or pronouns and that really hindered my growth going into adulthood," BeeWitched said.
"I think they have a lot of misinformation on that side and they're not willing to hear us out and a lot of them are actually for hate even if they want to say they're not."
She added that one of the main things the protesters fail to understand is that a child transitioning is not a simple, snap decision.
"It's a slow process to ensure the child feels as safe as possible and I just don't think they understand that," BeeWitched said.
In a statement, Queen's University said their primary concern is the safety and security of all community members, and that they stand with the LGBTQ+ community.
"As we stand with the Queer, Non-binary and Trans community," the statement reads.
"We remain committed to fostering an inclusive, safe, and welcoming environment for everyone, to human rights and dignity, and to the protection of spaces in which gender and intersectional social justice issues are freely discussed, studied, and researched."
Kingston's MPP Ted Hsu also posted a statement on social media, saying "a peaceful protest does not legitimize hate."
Various politicians including Jagmeet Singh and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau also threw their support behind the LGTBQ2S+ community.
"Let me make one thing very clear: Transphobia, homophobia, and biphobia have no place in this country," Trudeau said in a social media post.
"We strongly condemn this hate and its manifestations, and we stand united in support of 2SLGBTQI+ Canadians across the country – you are valid and you are valued."
Story by Owen Fullerton, YGK News, for the Local Journalism Iniatiative