Andy Boschy is a student and transgender man living in Ottawa, Ontario. During a recent school board meeting, Boschy spoke about the importance of gender-affirming care and providing support for transgender youth in schools.
Existing as a transgender person in public has always been scary.
Growing up as one of the first generations with unrestricted access to the internet exposed me to many things I probably didn’t have the capacity to understand until much, much later. There is a pattern of what I like to call “doomerism” where much of current media is extremely depressing. After a long day of doing schoolwork, I often log on to Twitter with the hopes of seeing lighthearted or funny content. Unfortunately, it has been a long time since my timeline could be described as lighthearted or fun.
Gone are the days when my little Twenty One Pilots fan account got little exposure, and I could talk about my problems with no audience.
Today, I log on to my social media and am immediately confronted with the horrifying realities of existing as a trans person in public. Hundreds of bills in the United States are now targeting gender-affirming care, the majority of which are against trans kids. With these issues so apparent in the media, with everything going on surrounding trans issues, this is why I decided to speak out. I am terrified every day that I will leave the house and not return. I believe the public needs to be aware of the issues we face in our day-to-day lives.
This is terrifying, I remember being a trans kid going through high school. I remember how scared I was just using the bathroom, or getting changed for my gym class. This fear doesn’t go away in adulthood. I’m constantly aware of how I’m perceived, constantly aware that I don’t know the people that surround me, and constantly aware that any interaction may end in violence. I worry that any post I make about problems I face in my personal life will be twisted and used against me, as they have in the past. I worry that I will be doxed, or that someone will threaten my family, simply for daring to speak out. It was important to me, most of all, that other queer students could see someone like me thriving. I want them to see that things do get better, even if it seems like the world is out to get them.
Andy Boschy’s Delegation - March 28
“Good evening, Madam Chair. My name is Andy Boschy, I am 20 years old, and I am transgender. You might recognize my last name. I am speaking to you tonight to urge you to do everything in your power to protect the safety, and dignity of transgender students in the Ottawa Carleton District School Board, particularly considering recent political events.
I would first like to share with you all that, in order to speak to you this evening, I have had to make arrangements to keep myself safe. I owe immense gratitude and thanks to the individuals who have volunteered to come here with me and ensure my safety.
Before I go any further, I would like to state that the fact I must come in here and defend my fellow trans siblings’ right to exist in public is abhorrent, and that it should not be my, or any other trans person’s job to come here and denounce bigoted and hateful ideologies attempting to override the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
Recently, there have been board meeting disruptions and threats made against board members regarding issues surrounding my community. Particularly, the rights of transgender students to use the restroom corresponding to their gender identity, the rights of transgender students accessing same-gender spaces, and their right to a safe, secure space where they can explore their own identities free of judgement. This speaks to a rising tide of hatred against the transgender community. Most recently, several US states are moving towards banning transgender children from sports, and many have moved to restrict or outright ban transgender healthcare. This is terrifying, and even more terrifying to see similar rhetoric coming from my own country, and people I used to consider my own family.
According to the Williams Institute out of UCLA, transgender people are over four times more likely to face violent crime than any of their cisgender peers. From 2017 to 2018, transgender people faced 86.2 victimizations for every 1000 transgender people, compared to 21.7 victimizations for every 1000 cisgender people. When hearing these statistics, please keep in mind that transgender people make up less than one per cent of the global population. This was 6 years ago, and it has only gotten worse.
With growing frequency, we are seeing attacks on the rights of transgender people as a whole. We are called groomers, predators, and violent. We are accused of mutilating children, and endangering women. All of this, simply for existing and living our lives as anyone else would. My generation was among the first to be raised on the internet, and I can assure you, your queer and gender-diverse students have seen the vitriol aimed at them. They are scared, and it is our job to be there for them and show them we can do better
Schools are a place where students deserve to be safe. Students should be able to focus on learning and engaging productively with their peers. They should not have to worry about whether they will be allowed to use the bathroom corresponding to their gender identity, or about bigotry from staff or other students. And they should always know that trustees are working to keep them safe.
Teachers and administrative staff need to be aware of the issues their minority students face, and they need to be trained and educated on how to handle situations in which one of their students has been victimized simply for being their authentic self.
I urge any board members who have not already done so, to please do your research into what the so-called gender critical movement is aiming to accomplish. I urge you to establish a professional code of conduct for any person attempting to run for a trustee position. This code of conduct must extend to online behaviour; no trustee candidate should be allowed to share confidential school meeting details with the public, discuss the genitals of students on public social media platforms, and under absolutely no circumstances should ever be allowed to espouse hate speech against any protected class.
We must make sure the safety and dignity of students is protected. It is our duty to make sure that from the second they step foot on school grounds, to the moment they step off the graduation stage, students feel safe, respected, and dignified. It is our duty to educate our children and teenagers on societal issues, and most importantly, it is our duty to protect our kids from bigotry and bigoted ideology.
On a more personal note, gender-affirming care saved my life. I would not be here today if it were not for the amazing team at CHEO, and if not for the kind, supportive friends, and family in my life.
To any transgender, gender diverse or queer high school students listening this evening: I hear you, I see you, and I will fight for your right to be who you are no matter what.