Milo Leraar is the trans connect co-ordinator at ANKORS. Their work includes public speaking, advocacy and peer-to-peer support. Photo: Tyler Harper

Talking transgender issues with Nelson advocate

Nov. 20 is the Transgender Day of Remembrance

When Milo Leraar came out as non-binary to their evangelical family, they were promptly disowned. Leraar was 18 years old, a single parent to an infant and on their own in the Lower Mainland.

It’s taken a decade of conflict and conversations, but Leraar has tentatively been invited back into the family. It’s a work in progress, but it’s a start.

“Maybe I’m an optimist,” Leraar said. “I always like to focus on where the growth is happening, because that’s where I get my strength. That’s where I get my hope from.”

That history helps Leraar relate to people in their work as ANKORS’s Trans Connect co-ordinator.

Leraar provides peer support to trans, non-binary and two-spirit people and their families, acts as an advocate, help clients with medical or social service needs, and speaks about trans issues in schools or workshops.

One of those workshops, called Trans 101, was held Tuesday at Community Futures, where Leraar spoke to a group of 20 people about experiences and challenges faced by transgender people.

Participants included a couple interested in learning about their transitioning grandchild, people working on providing inclusive services, and some allies of the community with their own stories to tell.

Most of the conversation centred on language. One person spoke about customers who insist on referring them as a man even though they identify as a woman.

Leraar said asking for and then using a person’s correct pronouns — he, she, or in Leraar’s case, they — can be daunting for people privileged enough to take gender for granted. But it also comes easy, they said, once another person’s identity becomes accepted.

“That has united trans communities across other experiences,” said Leraar. “The one thing we have in common is that we want people to refer to us correctly and show us respect.”

Respect is an important theme for Leraar, who avoids getting into debates about science or religion and instead opts for conversations about shared experiences.

For the trans community, those experiences can include daily discrimination and anxiety. One participant Tuesday said she has to avoid Nelson bars for fear of assault.

“I find that’s something that’s a lot more difficult for people to debate,” said Leraar. “Most people have some understanding of what it feels like to be respected and what expectations they have around wanting to be respected by other people around them.”

That conversation, Leraar added, tends to be far easier in classrooms. Teenagers, they said, are generally well educated in gender issues.

“It feels like light years different than when I was in high school. Most classrooms that I’m in presenting, there will be a trans kid in the room, which I think is amazing.”

That might be, Leraar said, because there is far more information available online for trans people, as well as family and community members learning how to make Nelson a little more inclusive.

“There’s a lot of generosity in the trans community in this town for education,” said Leraar. “If people are feeling fearful of messing up or avoidant of trans people because they don’t want to accidentally step on anyone’s toes, it’s not actually as hard as you might think.”

The Transgender Day of Remembrance will be held in Nelson on Nov. 20 at Ward and Baker from 4 to 5:30 p.m.A video Leraar played during their workshop can be seen below.



tyler.harper@nelsonstar.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Just Posted

Avalanche Canada issues special public warning

Very weak layer buried under recent snow a cause for concern

From the Hill: The millstone of a cannabis conviction

Richard Cannings writes about records expungement for cannabis convictions

Tips for avoiding Canada Revenue Agency scams

Grand Forks RCMP are asking residents to be vigilant.

Grand Forks celebrates the holidays with Santa Claus parade, light up

The Christmas tradition was a hit on Friday night.

RDKB receives funding for disaster response ‘work space’ in Midway

The work space and storage will be used by disaster response volunteers.

Trudeau to make it harder for future PM to reverse Senate reforms

Of the 105 current senators, 54 are now independents who have banded together in Independent Senators’ Group

Canada’s ambassador meets with second detainee in China

Global Affairs says John McCallum, Canada’s ambassador to China, met with Spavor Sunday

B.C. VIEWS: Andrew Wilkinson on taxes, ICBC and union changes

Opposition leader sees unpredictable year ahead in 2019

5 tips for self-care, mental wellness this holiday season

Ministry of Mental Health and Addictions urging British Columbians to prioritize self care through festive season

Rescued B.C. cat with misshapen legs in need of forever home – with carpet

Mirielle was born with misshapen back legs and after a tough life on the streets, is looking for a forever home.

VIDEO: Craft growers will add to recreational market, cannabis producer says

Two B.C. men say their expertise in running small legal medical grow-ops a benefit to recreational market

World Sikh Organization demands Canada prove Sikh extremism is a threat

Sikh community says this is first time such extremism has been mentioned in federal terror-threat assessment

Risk of catching the flu increasing in B.C. this holiday season: BCCDC

Dr. Danuta Skowronski with the BC Centre for Disease Control says influenza will pick up during the holidays

Boeser has 2 points as Canucks ground Flyers 5-1

WATCH: Vancouver has little trouble with slumping Philly side

Most Read