Justin Trudeau’s government awards MEDAL to ‘champion of diversity’ trans activist who got Canada’s oldest rape shelter defunded for refusing to house transgender women
A transgender activist whose city funding was stripped from Canada's oldest rape shelter has been awarded a medal as a “champion of diversity.”
Morgane Oger, a transgender woman, received a Meritorious Service Medal from Canadian Governor General Mary Simon on December 7.
Official photos show her receiving the award along with dozens of other Canadians being honored for their “exceptional actions.”
Oger said she was “so grateful” to receive a medal for “advancing legal protections for transgender Canadians.”
Morgane Oger (left), a transgender woman, received a Meritorious Service Medal from Canadian Governor General Mary Simon (right)
Official photos show her receiving the award along with dozens of other Canadians being honored for their 'exceptional actions'
In an awards ceremony, Oger was called a “champion of diversity” who changed perceptions of LGBTQI+ rights and worked “tirelessly” to create these laws.
“She forged alliances across party lines that brought about changes in provincial and federal legislation that protected individuals from discrimination based on gender identity or expression,” it said.
“Her courage, vision and perseverance helped redefine the fundamental issue of equality and advanced inclusivity for gender-diverse Canadians.”
Oger was chosen for the award in 2018 and it was unclear why it took five years for her to actually receive it.
'It feels very, very, very nice. “We don't live in a time where medals are awarded very often, and the campaign to achieve equality still has a long way to go,” she said at the time.
At the time, Oger led an effort to strip Vancouver Rape Relief of city funding because it refused to accommodate transgender women.
Oger led an initiative in 2019 that stripped Vancouver Rape Relief of city funding for refusing to house transgender women
Months after funding was removed, the shelter was repeatedly vandalized in August 2019 and a dead rat was nailed to the front door
The Vancouver City Council in March 2019 revoked the CAN$34,000 annual subsidy for 2020 unless the shelter, the oldest in Canada that started in 1974, changed its policies.
'Trans women are women and sex work is work. Trans women and sex workers deserve care and protection,” Councilor Christine Boyle said at the time.
“I cannot support organizations that exclude them, so I will not support municipal funding for Vancouver Rape Relief.”
Councilor Sarah Kirby-Yung said: “They have done a fantastic job and are a valuable service, but we wanted to make sure they provided it for everyone. When we give public resources, we should give them to organizations that are inclusive.
“I don't want to live in a community that is not inclusive and rejects people, especially if someone is going through trauma.”
Oger told the council during its deliberation that the shelter violates the city's trans equity and inclusion criteria, adopted in 2016, and said transgender women are men, not women.
The shelter said depriving it of funding was “discrimination against women in the name of inclusion” and accused the city of “forcing us to change our position.”
“Kill TERFS, trans power,” was written on the windows, referring to “trans-exclusionary radical feminists,” who reject the concept of transgender identity
In August 2019, another offensive message was scrawled on the shelter's windows
Vancouver Rape Relief argued that the women it sheltered did not feel safe with anyone who was not “born female” after being abused by their male partners.
'Being born a woman still means being trained, socialized and forced to submit to male domination. “The fact that we are born female and raised as girls to adulthood shapes our lives in profound ways,” the report said.
'We don't have the experience to offer services to people without the same life experience… this is not our job.'
It also said city funding was only used for education, which was open to all.
VRR has an annual budget of about $1 million, much of it from the province of British Columbia, and made up for the city's deficit with increased donations.
“Corrosive hands that feed it: Tax-funded Vancouver Rape Relief pushes prejudice in an outraged online tirade about discrimination, despite a one-year grace period to comply with Canada's discrimination laws,” Oger wrote after the council's decision.
The shelter won a long-running civil rights lawsuit in 2005 brought by transgender woman Kimberly Nixon after she was rejected from a training program for volunteer counselors.
It was argued that because she had grown up with the privileges of being a man, she would not be able to provide effective guidance to women.
“Even deep voices and masculine insignia like baseball caps and boots can make women nervous,” Lee Lakeman, the center's founder, wrote in 2006.
Transgender activists attacked the shelter and destroyed the windows
Oger suggested at the time that while the vandalism was unacceptable, the shelter itself had caused it
The shelter was originally ordered to pay Nixon $7,500, but this was overturned by the Supreme Court of British Columbia.
Months after funding was removed, the shelter was repeatedly vandalized in August 2019 and a dead rat was nailed to the front door.
“Kill TERFS, trans power,” was written on the windows, referring to “trans-exclusionary radical feminists,” who reject the concept of transgender identity.
Oger suggested at the time that while the vandalism was unacceptable, the shelter itself had caused it.
“Unfortunately but predictably, VRR's choice to ignore Canada's civil rights laws is causing backlash,” she wrote.
'I understand that VRR feels threatened by the predictable reaction to their behavior. As I have offered before, I am willing to help VRR out of trouble if that is what they want.”