GRIS now demystifies gender identity

0 17 mai 2019

« Hi! My name is Éliott, I’m 26 years old and I’m trans man »

As the International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia approaches, Quebec's five GRIS are announcing the expansion of their services. From now on, in addition to sexual orientation, gender identities will also be demystified by the organizations. Working in parallel to our gay, lesbian, and bisexual volunteers, trans and non-binary people will share their experiences in schools and other environments visited by the five organizations.

A need more and more visible in our communities

With this new service, we respond to a growing demand from the communities we visit. In many school groups visited in 2018 by GRIS volunteers, questions were asked about trans people. Projects submitted by schools for the GRIS-Simple Plan Foundation prize are also more and more numerous to address gender identity. And one of the best examples is the 2018 winning project: a book featuring a trans character, written and illustrated by three elementary school students.

“By adding this new component to our services, we will be even closer to the concerns of young people. The need is real, and we are ready to respond after taking the time to prepare well for two years. From now on, the positive models that we will present daily to Quebec youth will also represent gender diversity. I think this is a big plus for our society, still poorly informed about these realities” declares Catherine Duclos, President of GRIS -Montréal.

Johanie Bouffard, President of GRIS-Québec, adds: “The support of our members is strong. They understand that the demystification of gender identities aligns perfectly with our values. This contributes to our desire to build a more open and caring society.”
A two-year pilot project

This new demystification service was added after a two-year pilot project. This period allowed the GRIS to test the reception of these new workshops in three CEGEPs, a high school and a youth center.

During the 15 interventions that were organized in these environments, the reactions were very positive and the curiosity of students palpable.

Comments from students
“I learned a little more about the difficulties that trans people face every day, but also about how to interact with them better so as not to make them uncomfortable.”
- Man, 19 years old

“I found it interesting because I've never met trans people in person, but only seen them on TV, like Caitlyn Jenner. I learned that being able to live a transition can bring benefits if one feels the need. For example: avoid suicide.”
- Girl, 17 years old

“It gives a much more personal image of the topic. It's different from courses where we were told about trans people, it's just facts, but then we start from the point of view that it's people who live this, that it can be difficult to live too. I think it's good to make people understand the realities of trans people's experiences.”
- A CEGEP student
A teaching handbook
In order to support this change, GRIS-Montréal will prepare, in collaboration with the Conseil québécois LGBT, a handbook to help Quebec teachers address issues related to trans realities with their high school students.

About the five Quebec GRIS
GRIS is the largest group of Quebec organizations dedicated to the demystification of sexual orientation in schools. Volunteers of GRIS-Montréal, GRIS-Québec, GRIS-Chaudière-Appalaches, GRIS-Mauricie/Centre-du-Québec and GRIS-Estrie have met over 20 years several hundreds of thousands of young people. In addition to this work in classrooms, the GRIS do research on homophobia in schools and are regularly asked to share their expertise on the subject in Quebec and abroad. As of May 17, 2019, the five Quebec GRIS invite trans and non-binary people who wish to get involved in their organization to contact the GRIS of their region.

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