Trans Connect is so vital that Nicola Hare has seen people drive up to three hours to access a peer support group or special event — some of her peers live in very rural locations.
Hare is reminded on the impacts of the program.
“I’m reminded almost every day of the impact my presence can make — being a visible, resilient transgender person — it can mean a lot to other gender diverse people to see trans identity being normalized," said Nicola Hare, Trans Connect Program Coordinator.
"Or having sometimes difficult conversations with a person’s coworkers or family members can help bring a bit more resource, understanding, and acceptance to the process of social and gender-based change that someone may be exploring.”
Trans Connect offers community education, workshops, and consulting for service providers, businesses, community groups, and schools to increase allyship and awareness about the transgender community and run groups for LGBTQ2IA+ youth and trans, two-spirit, intersex, and gender diverse community members and offer one-on-one support for gender diverse people and their families.
As program coordinator, Hare has heard firsthand from program participants about its effect on their lives.
“I’ve had people say things that have brought tears to my eyes, recognizing that I was able to show up and be supportive of somebody in a way that they weren’t finding elsewhere. It’s gratifying work in that sense.”
Hare’s job is wide-reaching. She coordinates weekly youth groups, runs education events, tailors content and resources to educational institutions and businesses, and works in schools supporting students and teachers and Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity (SOGI) clubs.
Hare had facilitated the peer support group Gender Outlawsfor several years and, in 2021, stepped into the Program Coordinator role. Before that, she was a peer support group participant herself.
“The group was very supportive in my life, and eventually, because of my experience and interest in facilitation, I hosted that group for a number of years,” says Hare, who has also run a drop-in program at another organization, written human resources policy and procedure documents and has helped small to medium-sized businesses create more inclusive work cultures.
If it seems like Hare has worn many hats, she has.
“The resilience and diversity of skills of many gender diverse people is a common thread that I see in myself and my peers. Many of us are so skilled, knowledgeable, and involved in our communities. The struggle or the lives that many of us have lived have resulted in us needing to have diverse skill sets and be really good at what we do — we’re resilient in the end,” says Hare.
Trans Day of Remembrance & Resilience was on Sunday, November 20th, an event that honours the lives of all trans and gender non-conforming people but also mourns the untimely and often violent deaths of trans people, this year and over the years due to transphobic violence and often the intersection of racism.
“The most important part of that remembrance is reflecting on our own relationships to power and privilege and asking ourselves why it is that trans women of colour, in particular, are murdered at such high rates," Hare explains.
"Then moving towards action, how can we support those most in need in our own community.”
In 2021 there were 472 people killed internationally due to these forms of violence. In Canada, the rates of this kind of violence are less common than in the US and other countries, but Hare points outs:
“Of those deaths that do occur in Canada, there are common elements of transphobia and racism and suspicious incidents of the death of trans people while in police custody.”
Hare supports her local clients and peers with a range of challenges.
“Some of my clients and my peers, trans people living here, struggle with access to housing, inadequate work or income opportunities, the increasingcost of living, and the impact of the toxic drug crisis. Gender diverse peoplewho are poor or un-housed arestruggling to access resources and have their basic needs met.”
Trans Connect programs include Gender Outlaws groups in Nelson, Trail, Cranbrook and online for trans, non-binary, gender non-conforming, two-spirit, intersex, and questioning people of all ages and Under the Umbrella in Nelson for LGBTQ2IA+, questioning, and allied youth (ages 12 to 18).
The Christopher Moore Community Fund accepts financial donations supporting trans and gender diverse community members with transition-related expenses and gender-affirming gear and garments.
For more information, visit: www.ankorstransconnect.comor email: firstname.lastname@example.org