With Open Arms: Including trans, Two-Spirit & non-binary people
Since 2023, the West Island CALACS has opened its services to all trans, Two-spirit and non-binary people. We are committed to making our organization a safe and supportive environment for these communities.
Terms and Definitions
A few definitions before we begin, to allow us to better understand the situation and the issues involved!
SEX is the identification attributed to people at birth based on physical and physiological characteristics, hormone levels and the anatomy of the reproductive system, among other things. For example: male, female or intersex!
GENDER refers rather to how people perceive and feel about themselves: it is a social identity, a self-expression or a relationship with their body and with others. It is also a social construct that surrounds the different roles and attributes associated with masculinity and femininity. Everyone has a gender identity: for some people it corresponds to the gender assigned at birth, and for others it does not. Gender is not binary and is rather on a spectrum!
TRANS is a term used to refer to people whose gender identity differs from the sex they were assigned at birth. This can include non-binary people! For example: A trans woman, a trans man
CIS is a term for a person whose gender identity matches that assigned at birth. For example: a cis woman, a cis man
NON-BINARY is a term used by people who have a gender identity that does not fit the male/female binary model. The term itself includes several identities: neither male nor female, somewhere in between, a combination of genders, no gender, etc. They also often identify as trans.
The Two-spirit identity is claimed by some Indigenous people! Diane Labelle, Mohawk Two-Spirit activist and consultant explains:
“In most [Indigenous] nations, prior to colonization, Two-Spiritedness was considered an alternative and distinct gender. It was therefore a third or fourth (or more) gender, depending on the terms used. Two-spirit people often occupied specialized roles, or filled essential roles in communities. These individuals were distinguished by their unique clothing choices, which Europeans have mistaken for “transvestism”. Some people view Two-Spirit identities as gender identities rather than sexual orientations. Although Two-Spirit people often engage in non-heterosexual relationships, they can also engage in heterosexual relationships. In contrast to contemporary LGBT+ identities of Indigenous people, Two-Spirit people are often in spiritual or healing roles (doctor, psychologist, keeper of ceremonies or traditions, etc.). The manifestation of their identity can occur at any point in their lives, and as A. Maracle has written, “A person is free to adopt another gender role at a time when he or she feels it is appropriate. “To me, Two-Spiritedness is an intersection of gender, sexuality, and social roles.”