Canada acknowledges transgender activist for defunding rape shelter over male ban

Transgender activist Morgane Oger is being recognized for receiving Canada’s Meritorious Service Medal after being involved in defunding the country’s oldest rape shelter. This decision came after the shelter refused to allow biological men who identify as women to stay there. Oger, a man who lives as a woman, was presented with the prestigious award by Canadian Governor-General Mary Simon on December 7.

Oger has been hailed as a “champion of diversity” by the Canadian government, with the award citation citing his efforts to forge alliances across party lines to drive changes in provincial and federal legislation protecting individuals against discrimination based on gender identity or expression.

Despite being chosen for the award in 2018, Oger only received the honor after a five-year delay, sparking questions about the timing of the recognition. Upon receiving the award, Oger expressed his gratitude, stating, “It feels really, really, really nice. We don’t live in a day and age where medals come about very often, and the campaign to bring equality still has a lot of road ahead of us.”

One of Oger’s notable actions was leading the charge to strip Vancouver Rape Relief of city funding due to their refusal to house transgender biological men. This move prompted the Vancouver City Council to withdraw its grant from the shelter, which has been in operation since 1974. The decision was made after Councilor Christine Boyle asserted, “Trans women are women and sex work is work. Trans women and sex workers deserve care and protection. I can’t support orgs who exclude them, so I won’t be supporting city funding for Vancouver Rape Relief.”

Furthermore, Councilor Sarah Kirby-Yung emphasized the need for inclusivity in organizations receiving public funds, stating, “I don’t want to live in a community that is not inclusive and reject people, especially if someone is going through trauma.” However, Vancouver Rape Relief argued that the women staying at the shelter do not feel safe around men after being victims of rape.

Oger’s actions have sparked controversy and garnered support from various communities, with some praising his efforts to advance inclusiveness for gender-diverse individuals. This recognition also raises important questions about the intersection of rights, safety, and inclusivity within society. The decision to honor Oger with the Meritorious Service Medal has sparked debate and highlighted the complexities of navigating gender identity and equality within social and legislative contexts.

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