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No space for hate

We are amidst a striking reactionary backlash targeting 2 Spirit, trans, and non-binary people, drag performers, and broader 2SLGBTQ+ communities.

With a rise of anti-LGBTQ+ rhetoric across the globe matched with legislative violence such as Uganda’s Anti-Homophobia Bill and a host of other bills targeting gender-affirming healthcare in the U.S., 2SLGBTQ+ lives are at risk. We must unite in solidarity with global LGBTQ+ communities as they fight back for their safety and futures.

The movement for 2SLGBTQ+ liberation is centered on the fact that we have a right to self-expression and bodily autonomy. Against staggering odds and at incredible risk, we have always fought against the erasure of our lives, the silencing of our voices, and the criminalization of our love, identity, expression and very existence. To see anti-2SLGBTQ+ extremists put a new spin on the ignorant vulgar tropes and dehumanizing language that has been used against us for decades is not surprising. To see them gain traction in unprecedented ways is a crystal-clear reminder that we must act now.

In our city and country, and across the world, 2SLGBTQ+ people are showing up on the front lines of movements, actively fighting for our rights, safety, and well-being to be safeguarded. We honour all those who are doing this difficult but important work every day.

Make no mistake: this growth in anti-2SLGBTQ+ radicalism is not something that came out of thin air. It is a coordinated effort across many fringe – and not so fringe – groups that are intently focused on denying the reality that trans people exist, putting us back in the closet, and making sure that women, racialized communities, and other marginalized groups are halted in the pursuit of justice and equity.

So much of their rhetoric hides behind the illusion that they are just trying to “protect children”. 2SLGBTQ+ people know what it takes to protect children. We know what it feels like to grow up in families where being our true, authentic selves means being disowned. We know what it means to be in a classroom and the sense of panic sets in when the teacher divides the group into boys and girls. As parents, we know the sharp hotness and intake of breath and sense of dread that takes over when we are in public with our families and someone makes a hateful comment. We fear for our safety, and the safety of our children, our lovers, our siblings, our chosen family every day. No one deserves to have to live with that crippling fear.

Download PDF: Canadian Anti-Hate Network's Guide for DefendersNo Space for Hate Across OntarioInstagram: Counterprotests in CanadaDownload PDF: Army of Lovers Community Safety Tips

Enough is enough.

We will NOT let these attacks go unchallenged. We’ve fought too long and too hard, and lost too many along the way to let this happen again.

This Pride season, we are filled with a prideful rage that builds on the giant shoulders of our 2 Spirit, queer and trans ancestors. They showed us that when we are under attack, we must come together.

We find inspiration in the courage and words of our queer and trans ancestors, those here today, and those who died fighting for our rights:

We come together in the radical joy that comes from being in solidarity with one another.

We come together in imagining a world where we live lives free of fear.

We come together because we recognize our very existence is resistance.

We come together and fight not for privacy but for the ability to be loudly, publicly, and unashamedly who we are.

We come together to fight back.

We are an army because we have to resist. We are an army because we are powerful. We are an Army of Lovers, because we know what it means to fight with our lives for love. We cannot lose.

Join us!

The Issue:

Homosexuality is criminalized in almost 70 countries worldwide. The Ugandan president recently passed a violent Bill with some of the harshest punishments in history. It represents what The UN’s human rights commissioner calls “among the worst of its kind in the world,” while UNAIDS says the legislation “threatens public health” because it hurts efforts to fight HIV.

LGBTQ+ activists worldwide continue to face violence and discrimination. In Iran, LGBTQ+ activists are being sentenced to death. LGBTQ+ communities in Kenya are fighting tirelessly for their right to live authentically. Closer home, drag artists are being threatened and protested by fascist factions. Hate crimes based on perceived sexuality and gender identity are on the rise – on transit, and on the street.

The current momentum of anti-2SLGBTQ+ rhetoric and legislation with global influences and colonial roots links to actions of white supremacists and nationalists that exist in North America and globally. For example, Florida state legislators passed a series of Bills that discriminate against and restrict the life and liberty of 2SLGBTQ+ communities. Egregiously, the Gender Affirming Care Ban, prohibits youth from receiving gender-affirming treatment with state authority to apprehend a youth if they are undergoing treatments. Another Bill restricts teachers and students from using pronouns they identify with, bathrooms of choice, and education on sex and gender. Erin Reed, a legislative analyst monitoring anti-2SLGBTQ+ laws recently reported that there is a significant uptick in anti-trans legislation and that they are currently tracking 541* anti-trans Bills across the United States.

*as of May 12, 2023

Anti-2SLGBTQ+ extremists are engaging in a full-fledged culture-war. They are determined to silence our visible activists through threats of violence and punish our allies for the mildest gestures of inclusion. This harnessing of misdirected anger is being used by politicians and media personalities to advance their own self-interest.

Our existence as 2 Spirit, trans, and queer people, are not adult-only topics. We were all once children, and many of us knew exactly who we were from a very young age. Our drag performers are putting on harmless shows that entertain and make it clear that there are many ways to be one’s authentic self. Trans people are not preying on cisgender people, they are merely trying to exist, thrive and live their lives.

We see the impacts this type of hatred has on our communities. We see it in mental health rates, shamefully high 2SLGBTQ+ youth homelessness rates, and how these issues are exacerbated amongst 2 Spirit, trans, and non-binary Black, Indigenous, and other racialized communities. Our ability to take up space, to be who we are, to live as our authentic selves with joy keeps us alive.

Young people’s lives are enriched by diversity, whether it’s to make them feel seen in their own immutable identities raising their self-esteem, or prepare them for life in a mosaic society. Whether they’re queer, trans, cisgender, or straight, children will be who they are meant to be. No access to or withholding of information will change that. Our existence is not up for debate.

We are exhausted. The fight for the right to survive seems interminable. It is not only up to us to advocate for our existence. We need YOU to continue being visible allies. We need your support to actively counter hate when you witness it in your families, communities, and workplaces. We need you to challenge your own internal biases. We need you. Today. Now.

Just the Facts:



Police-reported hate crimes based on sexual orientation in 2021 (Statistics Canada)

LGBTQ+ respondents reported being targets of online harassment on the Online Hate and Harassment report (Anti-Defamation League, 2021):


LGBTQ+ respondents reported being targets of online harassment on The Online Hate and Harassment Report. (Anti-Defamation League, 2021)

Trans respondents said they had experienced severe online harassment, which they defined as physical threats, sustained harassment, stalking, sexual harassment, doxing, or swatting. (Anti-Defamation League):


Trans respondents who have experienced severe online harassment, which they defined as physical threats, sustained harassment, stalking, sexual harassment, doxing, or swatting.
(Anti-Defamation League, 2021)

Trans Canadians over 15 had experienced physical or sexual assault. (Statistic Canada, 2018):


Trans Canadians over 15 had experienced physical or sexual assault. (Statistic Canada, 2018)

Trans and non-binary youth say debates around their identities have negatively impacted their mental health:


85% of trans and non binary youth say debates around their identities have negatively impacted their mental health.

People regret accessing gender-affirming care according to studies:


People regret accessing gender-affirming care in studies.

Trans youth who are affirmed have drastically better mental health outcomes than those who are not.

Ontario school board elections saw a rise in candidates attempting to roll back inclusive sex ed and protections for trans and gender diverse students. (2021)

Fringe groups are attempting to replicate United States’ book bans in Canada.

We have already seen protests, and cancellations and postponements due to threats, ignorance, and intense backlash to drag shows in Sainte-Catherine, QC, Saskatoon and North Battleford, SK, Sudbury, Peterborough, Woodstock, London, Elora and Ottawa, ON, Georgetown, PEI, Moncton, NB, Morden, MN, Calgary, AB, and Kelowna, Nelson and Coquitlam, BC. (April, 2023)


How you can support:

There are many ways in which you can support 2SLGBTQ+ communities, particularly drag performances.

Attend and patronize local drag shows!

The Church-Wellesley BIA has created a comprehensive brochure with local schedules and etiquette tips when attending a drag performance. This is a great opportunity to familiarize yourself with the art form, support local artists and businesses, and have a lot of fun! If you feel able to, tip drag artists for their work, follow, and champion their work. Being in drag is a lot of work, and beautiful wigs and outfits can be expensive!

Take political action!

There are many supportive politicians advancing the rights of 2SLGBTQ+ people. Familiarize yourself with them, sign petitions for change, and use your vote to align with your values.

Be a visible ally!

This can look like attending or supporting an event that might be protested. Actively address anti-2SLGBTQ+ misinformation or hateful rhetoric when it arises – in conversations and on social media. You can use hashtags like #DragDownHate #NoHate and #TransLivesMatter while advocating for our communities’ safety on social media. There is so much power in showing up for 2SLGBTQ+ communities.

Support 2SLGBTQ+ organizations like The 519!

The 519 is a City of Toronto agency and registered charity which supports the health and well-being of 2SLGBTQ+ communities. You can donate or volunteer. There is joy in doing both. There are many amazing organizations in Toronto to support as well!

Tactics and Tips for Combatting Misinformation

When open dialogue is possible, and you feel safe to do so, answering misinformed questions is a quick way to fight back. We have provided some quick answers to misinformed questions.

It is important to always consider your personal safety before engaging. Some of these questions may be triggering.

What happens at a drag storytime event?

Drag performers read children’s books and sing songs with children and their parents or caregivers. Drag can be like any other art form, some shows are for grown-ups, and some are for families. A drag performer can do both, just like a famous comedian might do adult stand-up one night, then voice a character in an animated family film the next.

Why do drag artists do story time events?

As Fay and Fluffy say, “Reading is FUNdamental!” Drag story hours promote literacy, a love of books, compassion, and understanding. More importantly, the books read in such spaces teach children about the many possibilities of being authentic, including the possibilities of diverse family structures. Storytimes are a great way to build community, and to foster imagination and inclusion from a very young age.

Aren’t drag shows highly sexualized performances?

Often drag performances look like what you might see in a music video or a performance at an awards show on TV. Some performances may feature dancing, similar to a pop star. While drag performers frequently adjust their material for the audience, most humour, even at a drag show for adults, wouldn’t be out of place in a PG-13 movie.

Are drag queens trying to turn my child transgender?

Anyone would be blessed to have a wonderful trans child and it’s not possible to “turn your child trans.” Children, be they straight, queer, trans, genderfluid, agender, or cisgender, will be who they are meant to be. You can’t change someone’s sexual orientation or gender identity. It is not a choice or phase. All you can control as a parent is whether that process of self-discovery is a happy one or a painful one.

Drag performers and trans people are also different. While some drag queens are trans women, cis women, trans men, or gender diverse folks, it is a field dominated by cisgender men – including heterosexual cisgender men! Regardless of how a drag performer identifies, who they are when they’re in drag is a persona, like a WWF wrestler. After the show, they take off their drag, put on street clothes, and head home. Drag story hours teach compassion and acceptance, lessons every child should learn and practice.

Why do drag queens want to work around children in the first place?

Millions of adults work with children: teachers, pediatricians, early childhood educators, nannies, hairstylists, crossing guards, coaches, lifeguards, bus drivers, psychologists, and more. Helping children develop into healthy, kind adults is something many grown-ups are passionate about. Drag queens who want to work with children do so for the same reasons as everyone else who works with children.

I’ve seen alarming videos and images from drag shows online. I don’t know how to feel about it!

Just like any art form, there are many different types and audiences for drag, and drag artists with many different ways of expressing themselves. It is important to realize that the online space doesn’t factor in what content is for which audience. As an example, we don’t ban children from seeing all movies despite some movies not being appropriate for children. A late-night drag performance in a bar looks very different than an 11:00 a.m. story time at a library.

Aren’t kids too young to be getting surgery or taking hormones?

Gender-affirming care can mean a change of clothing, a different hairstyle, a new name, or a change in pronouns. Trans youth who persistently assert their gender identity for many years from a very young age may be able to access puberty blockers, hormones when they’re an older teen, and in very rare cases may access surgery in their late teens.

Between 2019 and 2021, insurance data showed that only 56 trans minors in the United States had received genital surgery (Reuters, October 2022). The youth in those rare cases would have started transitioning very young and would have gone through a medical process that took many years, extensive therapy, and treatment stages to reach. Puberty blockers are meant to suppress the body changes caused by puberty, so kids have more time to make decisions about their care.

This medical care takes place after years of social transition and other forms of gender affirming care. It can take years of medical support, involving doctors and mental health practitioners, before accessing gender affirming surgeries. Trans people have a right to medical privacy, just as everyone else. The medical treatments that trans people may choose or want to access is private. Trans people need the right to free gender-affirming care, which continues to be denied in Ontario. Every trans person’s journey is unique and we all deserve bodily autonomy.

Don’t people who have issues with drag queens have a right to protest them?

Freedom of expression and the right to associate allows peaceful protests. But protestors do not have the right to espouse hateful and violent rhetoric. Their right to protest doesn’t make their opinions true – and it doesn’t mean they won’t be met with a loud response from community.