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

West Kootenay highways a mess as heavy snowfall continues

‘Roads are very icy, people have to be patient and have to slow down’

Over $25,000 raised for Columbia Basin literacy

Success for 2018 Books for Kids campaign

It’s the last day to vote in B.C.’s referendum on electoral reform

Ballots must now be dropped off in person to meet the deadline of 4:30 p.m.

Grand Forks bantam team takes Nelson tournament

The team dominated the competition with some outstanding displays of skill and technique.

Donate to the Grand Forks and District Public Library

The library is undertaking significant washroom renovations.

VIDEO: Close encounter with a whale near Canada-U.S border

Ron Gillies had his camera ready when a whale appeared Dec. 7

B.C. judge grants $10M bail for Huawei executive wanted by U.S.

Meng Wanzhou was detained at the request of the U.S. during a layover at the Vancouver airport

Famous giant tortoise DNA may hold fountain of youth: UCBO

After Lonesome George’s death he still provides clues to longer life

Oogie Boogie, Sandy Claws and coffin sleigh part of B.C. couple’s holiday display

Chilliwack couple decorates their house for the holidays using Nightmare Before Christmas theme

First Nation sues Alberta, says oilsands project threatens sacred site

Prosper Petroleum’s $440-million, 10,000-barrel-a-day plans have been vigorously opposed by Fort McKay

North Okanagan site of first RCMP naloxone test project

Free kits, training to be provided to high-risk individuals who spend time in cell blocks

1 arrested after bizarre incident at U.S.-B.C. border involving bags of meth, car crash

Man arrested after ruckus in Sumas and Abbotsford on Thursday night

More B.C. Indigenous students graduating high school: report

70% of Indigenous students graduated, compared to 86% across all B.C. students

2 facing animal cruelty charges after emaciated dog found in B.C.

Amy Hui-Yu Lin and Glenn Mislang have been charged with causing an animal to continue to be in distress

Most Read