Written by UNICEF Canada Youth Advocate Malik (He/Sir/Prince), 23, Alberta

One of the first things that comes to mind when I think of Pride Month, is that I am now able to live as my true authentic self. Being able to be myself has provided me with a significant amount of freedom, happiness, and development in my life. Pride Month is one of the many things that I have to thank for this, as it has helped provide us with this privilege and advancement in various ways.

I also acknowledge, honour, and commemorate the revolution that Pride Month is founded upon. The first ever Pride was a riot pioneered and led by transgender people of colour.  Marsha P. Johnson, a Black transgender woman, one of the major faces of the Stonewall riots, and how she helped us receive the rights we have today. I think of our opportunities now (alongside our current fights), our community, support, acceptance, hope, harmony, and love (in all shapes and forms.)

As a transgender, queer, Arab man coming out as part of the 2SLGBTQ+ community was never an easy feat. It was conflicting and difficult when I first started questioning my gender and sexuality. I was born and raised in Canada, but my background is Middle Eastern. Knowing that being part of the 2SLGBTQ+ community is accepted and legal here in Canada, and also knowing that Iraq still to this day finds it a crime. I have had the opportunity to learn that this stems from many Islamic countries being colonized and overtaken by colonial powers, and the colonial-era laws that banned homosexuality, which still have impact today.

I have struggled to find where I fit in with my different intersectionalities, but I have slowly and surely been finding out that it is possible to be who I am. Growing up, I didn't have much representation or information and didn’t even know that medically transitioning was possible. Looking at myself now, five years on testosterone, and four years post-op, with both my hysterectomy and top surgery, I couldn’t be any more grateful and proud of myself for taking the huge steps that are needed for me. 

I share this to hopefully help spread awareness on how different intersectionalities play into one another. This story is just one of the many examples of why certain demographics of people (specifically those of colour) tend to have fewer resources and more challenges when coming out and taking the next steps they need for themselves.

To this day, even developed countries like Canada have their flaws; and this is why we continue to celebrate, fight and advocate for better legalizations, all over the map. 

The Government of Alberta is proposing legislation where parental notification and consent will be required by a school for any child under the age of 15 to alter their name or pronouns. Students aged 16 and 17 won't need consent, but schools will still need to notify their parents. This can cause many kids to be outed to their families which may not always be a safe thing to do. Due to safety reasons, I remember being one of those kids who couldn’t come out to my parents, and the one thing that helped me the most during that time was being called my actual name and pronouns. Data and statistics prove that the risk of depression and suicide drop significantly by using someone’s actual name and pronouns.

Alberta is also proposing legislation which would restrict healthcare options for youth seeking to medically transition. This means banning top and bottom surgeries for anyone aged 17 and under, and no puberty blockers or hormone therapies for gender affirmation for children aged 15 and under. 

The celebration of Pride and Pride Month is the celebration of the revolution that led us to being able to be ourselves and to love who we love. We honour and cherish those before us who have helped us get to where we are today. Those who have not and still do not have the same freedoms as we do. We celebrate what we have, but we also continue fighting for better legalizations; not only in Canada, but also around the world. We need queer liberation for all.

We continue our fight, we continue our love, and we help uplift and protect those who are not as privileged as we may be.

This is a guest author blog. The views or opinions expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official position or policy of UNICEF Canada.