Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Halifax Women's March Split amid Online Attacks about Transgender Rights

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Halifax Women's March Split amid Online Attacks about Transgender Rights

Article excerpt

Halifax women's march split amid attacks

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HALIFAX - The women's march in Halifax was roiled by divisions, as members of an offshoot event showed up to call for the recognition of marginalized groups after some people said they felt unsafe at last year's gathering.

Throngs of people returned to Halifax's Grand Parade square on Saturday for a rally on the one-year anniversary of Donald Trump's inauguration as U.S. president.

People held up signs on issues ranging from worker's rights to the jailing of a Palestinian activist during an event that included a Mi'kmaq prayer, a Chinese lion dance, a traditional Indian dance and a drumming performance.

As former Halifax poet laureate El Jones took to the microphone for her performance, a group of activists arrived at Grand Parade banging on drums and wafting pink smoke through the crowd before they made their way to a separate gathering elsewhere in the city.

Organizers of that event, dubbed the walk for intersectional women, said some transgender, Indigenous, black and other marginalized people felt unsafe at the main event after facing attacks at last year's march and online.

"We're here, but there's women who aren't, and we have to ask where. Transwomen who don't feel welcome or safe. Women who face threats when they come into this space," Jones told the crowd.

"We haven't arrived until all women are with us, right here."

Sandy Brown, who drove two hours to Halifax from Liverpool, N.S., for the women's march at Grand Parade, held up a pink, blue and white sign reading "All Women" in support of her transgender granddaughter, who she said did not feel safe to attend after her experience at the inaugural women's march a year ago.

"They certainly didn't feel welcome," Brown said. "It just seems to me that there's strength in everybody being together. Once we start bickering and dividing ourselves, then we've lost our strength."

Carolyn Davis, a co-founder of transgender support group First Love Yourself who spoke at the women's march, said she did not feel unsafe at the event and believed it was important that transgender voices be represented.

"I feel bad that (others) didn't feel safe being here," Davis said in an interview. "There's pain there, and it's pain that needs to be recognized."

A flyer credited to the Halifax Chapter of Socialists for Male-Exclusionary Radical Feminism was circulated at the women's march, saying the group does not oppose transgender rights, but wants equity to be achieved without "erasing women" or eroding sex-based legal protections for women. …

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