In their first committee meeting since the municipal election, Vancouver Park Board commissioners voted unanimously to approve $35,000 in funding for new trans and gender diverse programs in the city’s community centres.
The funding will help the Queer Arts Festival develop arts workshops, staff training and appoint a representative to advise staff on implementing inclusive programming.
The board’s decision came the night before the transgender community marks its International Day of Remembrance on Tuesday.
SD Holman, Queer Arts Festival artistic director, says the funding will be used to make community centres more welcoming for transgender people.
“For gender non-conforming people, gender diverse folks, going into parks and pools and change rooms is very dangerous, can be humiliating and really really very difficult,” Holman said.
One of the festival’s initiatives proposes to play videos created by trans artists in the common areas of community centres.
“We do everything at the Roundhouse [Community Centre] in the downtown,” said Holman. “Being able to get gender diverse, two spirit and trans art and videos that are going to be played much further out in Vancouver where you wouldn’t necessarily see that is going to be a very important piece of art.”
The Park Board’s trans, gender diverse and two-spirit inclusion (TGD2S) advisory committee was created in 2014 to increase accessibility to parks and community centres for trans people.
Since then, the board has appointed a steering committee to advise on TGD2S specific programming and in 2016 hired two TGD2S facilitators to train staff.
In 2018, new park board pilot programs have included a TGD2S weight room at the Britannia fitness centre, a teen Pride pool party at the Templeton Park Pool and queer and trans youth drop-ins at the West End Community Centre.
Commissioner John Irwin hopes the funding will continue to support trans and queer young people who are at higher risk of substance abuse and suicide.
“Hopefully, it’ll add to the empathy and support in the wider community,” Irwin said.