On Tuesday, October 3, 2023, Manitoba votes!
In a recent poll, Rainbow Resource Centre asked 2SLGBTQ+ Manitobans what issues were top priorities as they head to the ballot box this fall.
When it comes to issues that impact 2SLGBTQ+ Manitobans, this election there are four priorities that voters will be listening for candidates to address:
- Combatting the rise of anti-2SLGBTQ+hate,
- Increasing access to safe healthcare / gender affirming care,
- Increasing access to social supports for 2SLGBTQ+ Manitobans, and
- Prioritizing Diversity/Equity/Inclusion (DEI) education for leadership, educators, and health workers.
We then asked the three major parties running in this provincial election for their official stance on those issues. And they responded:
Progressive Conservative Party of Manitoba
“Progressive Conservatives are fighting for the rights, safety and freedoms of all Manitobans. We firmly stand against hate of all kinds. ..." READ FULL STATEMENT HERE.
"Wab Kinew and the Manitoba NDP are proud to stand in solidarity with 2SLGBTQ+ people across the province, and to support and defend the human rights and inclusion of 2SLGBTQ+ people." READ FULL STATEMENT HERE.
Manitoba Liberal Party
"Manitoba Liberals support 2SLGBTQ+ rights for the simple and fundamental reason that individuals who are 2SLGBTQ+ are human beings and are entitled to rights, freedoms, and equal protection of the law." READ FULL STATEMENT HERE
You can find the full report on the Get Amplified feedback for here, but let's take a closer at the priorities 2SLGBTQ+ Manitobans will be listening for candidates to address this election.
Anti-queer/anti-trans rhetoric has boiled up from the United States, disrupting the rights and freedoms 2SLGBTQ+ Canadians.
Efforts to ban books from schools and libraries puts kids in the crosshairs of a culture war where they are more likely to experience bullying. In Canada, the bullying of 2SLGBTQ+ youth has life-long health and social impacts. After so much progress for queer safety, especially in rural schools, recent targeted stigma of 2SLGBTQ+ people has only undone decades of work. (Statistics Canada, 2022)
Moreover, the anti-queer/anti-trans rhetoric of extremist groups recruiting members to willfully promote hatred are emboldening people to commit hate-motivated crimes like vandalizing schools and defacing public property—sometimes with horrific effect, such as in Lundar, Manitoba. (pictured below)
Special interest groups utilizing the same playbook as groups in the United States and all across Canada, are working to undermine decades of progressive work in Manitoba. A petition here, a rowdy crowd there—it's all coming together in a perfect storm. 2SLGBTQ+ and ally voters will be listening for candidates' stance on combatting hate.
Above: De-faced rainbow crosswalk in Lundar, Manitoba; August, 2023. After the initial rainbow crosswalk was vandalized on July 24, 2023, the crosswalk was repainted in front of the municipal office, where there was more visibility, only to be re-vandalized. This time with German script, translated says, "Kill the gays."
WHAT VOTERS ARE SAYING
I am concerned about the rising number of homophobic and transphobic events and incidents happening in Manitoba, and I am growing more concerned for my safety as a queer and trans/nonbinary Manitoban. — Riley, 27, West Broadway
No child should ever have to grow up in an environment of fear and insecurity. Young people should feel supported, and know that it's normal, healthy, and beautiful to be queer because it's part of being human. — Jack, 32, Winnipeg’s West End
How to combat hate in Manitoba
- Increase fines for hate-motivated crimes, including hate-motivated mischief like vandalism.
- Include language in the Manitoba Human Rights Code that protects 2SLGBTQ+ people from the agendas of special interest groups.
- Work with school boards to protect themselves from far-right, extremist agendas and groups.
- Bold leadership: state clearly that you are an ally of the 2SLGBTQ+ community and will remain so throughout the year.
HEALTHCARE / GENDER AFFIRMING CARE
In Canada, 2SLGBTQ+ people are more likely than their hetero counterparts to develop life-limiting disease, and due to systemic discrimination in healthcare, 2SLGBTQ+ people often present at advanced stages of illness. And that's just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to issues related to 2SLGBTQ+ health.
However, despite the increased likelihood of life-limiting disease many 2SLGBTQ+ people face, access to safe healthcare continues to be a major concern for 2SLGBTQ+ Manitobans. A study of 2SGBQ men in Manitoba found 75% do not speak openly about their sexual orientation with their doctor. And another study demonstrates how trans women, queer women, lesbians, and non-binary people in Manitoba often experience overt homophobia, transphobia, heterosexism, and cis-sexism at the doctor's office.
This election season, 2SLGBTQ+ Manitobans will be listening for candidates to increase access to inclusive/safe healthcare and gender affirming care.
Gender Affirming Care
The early steps of gender affirming care, including hormone replacement therapy and social supports, are relatively simple with proper training. However, access to gender affirming care in rural Manitoba is non-existent. With the only viable options for Gender Affirming Care located in Manitoba, a bottleneck has formed, meaning wait times for affirming care exceeds a year right now.
Though work is already being done to improve access to gender affirming care in Manitoba, right now every minute counts. It is during those early stages of the transgender journey that the risks of mental health crises and concerns about safety are at their highest, more access to gender affirming care—especially in rural Manitoba—would save lives.
Access to Safe Healthcare
For the generation that experienced the many traumatic chapters in the social history of the 2SLGBTQ+ community—the criminalization of homosexuality, the labelling of homosexuality as a mental illness, the fight for equal rights, the Purge, AIDS, and now the rise of anti-queer/anti-trans hate—a lifetime of minority stresses leads to increased risks of life-limiting disease and chronic illness. Compounded with the assumption of discrimination in the health system, 2SLGBTQ+ people are more likely to present at advanced stages of disease.
A recent survey of emergency room physicians and residents across Canada showed that approximately 83% of respondents agreed they would like to increase their knowledge in taking care of 2SLGBTQI+ patients. However, at the University of Manitoba's Rady School of Medicine, future doctors only receive a few hours of such training a year.
In order to improve the overall health of 2SLGBTQ+ Manitobans, steps should be taken to ensure when they see a doctor, that doctor will be able to provide them with them care they need. When 2SLGBTQ+ people begin a health journey, they should feel confident they will be treated with respect and dignity every step of the way.
WHAT VOTERS ARE SAYING
Transgender health is truly a hot mess right now. Klinic's wait time for intake alone is over a year, to get hormones it's more like a year and a half, for surgery referrals its two years, to get surgery is even longer … leading to inordinate wait times. — Alex, 26, Fort Rouge
Many health care providers are unprepared to help their queer patients. Doctors lack training pertaining to their needs and discrimination and stigma makes it harder for queer individuals to find a healthcare provider in the first place. — Rowan, 19, Transcona
Protections and policies that protect aging community members in affordable housing, assisted living and personal care homes. Training for homecare workers to address the special needs of 2SLGBTQ+ community members. Protections for same sex couples to continue to live as couples for as long as they can. — Allan, 54, Fort Rouge
HOW TO IMPROVE 2SLGBTQ+ HEALTHCARE
- Prioritize and support standardized DEI and 2SLGBTQ+ health education for all staff working in healthcare—from janitors, to administration, to nurses, to doctors.
- Ensure access to gender-affirming care in every city in Manitoba.
- Create a community-led Gender Affirming Care Policy Team to review all practices and policies related to access to gender affirming care.
- Mandate 2SLGBTQ+-inclusive programming in long-term care in Manitoba.
2SLGBTQ+ SOCIAL SUPPORTS
When we think of the social issues many Manitobans are concerned about (housing, isolation, food security, mental health, addiction), 2SLGBTQ+ people are over-represented in each area.
For example, when we talk about housing, in Canada, one out every three homeless youth identifies as 2SLGBTQ+; for 2SLGBTQ+ older adults, the fear of discrimination or lack of inclusive programs in retirement or long-term care communities can mean going back into the closet to get the care they deserve; and, queer/trans new Canadians are often housed in ethnic communities with those who oppressed them in the countries they fled. (Community Housing Canada, 2021)
Similarly, when we talk about social issues in rural Manitoba, 2SLGBTQ+ people are particularly vulnerable. With the rise of hatred across the province, 2SLGBTQ+ rural Manitobans risk discrimination when accessing social supports but also risk the myriad negative impacts of not accessing supports. With limited access to inclusive programming, they're stigmatized by attempts to ban books, they're impacted by hate-motivated crimes, and access to safe healthcare requires a journey to Winnipeg.
WHAT VOTERS ARE SAYING
Safer, accessible, inclusive services that outline key strategies for partnership agreements that ensure the safety and dignity of 2SLGBTQI+ older adults and elders. Accreditation measures should be in place and tied to funding transfers being dependent on meeting the strategies’ priorities. — Gina, 45, River Heights
Huge increase to programs to those in rural areas. An overwhelming amount of services are available within Winnipeg, while there is scant or negligible access to programs in Rural areas. Perimiteritis. — Sheila, 56, Brandon East
HOW TO IMPROVE 2SLGBTQ+ SOCIAL SUPPORTS
- Invest in inclusive social programming for 2SLGBTQ+ rural Manitobans, and commit to combatting 2SLGBTQ+ isolation in rural Manitoba.
- Ensure the safety of trans and non-binary individuals in shelter spaces/housing by mandating non-gendered options.
- Increase funding for supports for 2SLGBTQ+ new Canadians.
- Construct 2SLGBTQ+-focused permanent supportive housing, as many 2SLGBTQ+ people have been previously homeless, use drugs, or have mental illnesses or disorders.
PRIORITIZING DEI EDUCATION
In order to combat rising anti-2SLGBTQ+ hate, improve 2SLGBTQ+ healthcare, and improve social supports for 2SLGBTQ+ people, education about the diversity of 2SLGBTQ+ issues is critical.
Currently, in Manitoba, school budgets for professional development is limited to as few as 2-3 hours per year. While some school boards prioritize DEI training, there is no requirement for teachers and administration to learn about the issues that impact 2SLGBTQ+ youth.
Education about the issues that impact 2SLGBTQ+ people is treated as extra-curricular, something which can be opted into or out of. This "bare minimum" approach to DEI training only does more harm than good. Even though sexual orientation and gender diversity are protected in Manitoba, just as race and gender are, 2SLGBTQ+ identities are considered exceptional.
It all comes down to bold leadership. Will Manitoba's future leadership commit to educating themselves on the issues that impact 2SLGBTQ+ Manitobans? Will they commit to prioritizing DEI courses to ensure decisions about discrimination, health, and social issues are informed by accurate information? Will they include 2SLGBTQ+ voices in decisions that impact all Manitobans?
WHAT VOTERS ARE SAYING
Queer/trans history and education belong in our school systems. Education does not equal indoctrination. Learning about queer and trans history and identities does not make one queer or trans, just as learning about cis and hetero identities and history in school didn't make me cis or hetero. — Riley, 27, West Broadway
Curriculum, literature, teachers, and policy need to reflect the diversity of their students. We need to recruit queer teachers and make sure they have the resources they need to make sure all students feel safe. This need to be a priority everywhere but in particular in rural Manitoba where our safety is under attack. — gay cis male, 35, Point Douglas
Queer health and mental health should be standard. Every single healthcare professional and mental health professional should be well educated about queer health. We're not some niche specialization, we're everyone and everywhere, and we all need healthcare. — Jack, 32, Winnipeg West End
HOW TO IMPROVE 2SLGBTQ+-related EDUCATION
- Mandate the inclusion of 2SLGBTQ+-related content in school libraries and protect that information from far-right extremist agendas.
- Mandate regular, accredited DEI education for all school board administration, teachers, school staff, and students.
- Create Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion officer to review and improve access to DEI knowledge in all provincially funded schools.
- Require all MLAs to regularly take part in DEI training.
ELECTION DAY: OCTOBER 3
While the rights of 2SLGBTQ+ people feel secure in Manitoba, the coming years will determine the future of those rights. Now more than ever, every vote matters. It's important that Manitoba's future leadership understand the intersectionality of the issues that impact 2SLGBTQ+ Manitobans—all 2SLGBTQ+ Manitobans.
If you have questions about how to vote, or would like to practice voting, join us on Saturday, September 16, for Vote PopUp, a non-partisan tutorial on elections in Manitoba, brought to you by Elections Manitoba.
For more information on this coming election, please visit: https://www.electionsmanitoba....