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A shelter that excludes trans women keeps getting vandalised

Emma Powys Maurice August 30, 2019

Graffiti on the windows of Vancouver Rape Relief & Women's Shelter (Twitter/@Vanraperelief)

A Vancouver women’s shelter that refuses service to transgender women has been vandalised with angry messages, threats and a dead rat nailed to the door.

The Vancouver Rape Relief and Women’s Shelter offers many services to victims of abusive partners, including peer-to-peer counselling, safe shelter, free legal advice and a 24-hour crisis line.

The centre has been strongly criticised for its policy of refusing these services to trans women. Its owner, Hilla Kerner, believes this is why they have been targeted twice in two weeks.

“It’s a very controversial position in Vancouver and it’s totally okay for people to disagree and not to support our position, but to make those kinds of threats is appalling,” she told CityNews.

“Often our members will be targeted. People are expressing their disapproval of us, but we haven’t faced such unacceptable threats until now.”

Graffiti on the building’s windows includes the messages “Kill TERFS” and “TERFS go home you are not welcome”.

Trans activist Morgane Oger told CityNews that although she disagreed with the centre’s ‘anti-trans’ policy, she did not support the vandalism.

Hatred brings more hatred

She said: “My message to the people who put out the graffiti is that hatred brings more hatred.

“There’s a lot of anger at Vancouver Rape Relief and my regret is that this is not how you express your anger at an organisation because this just creates anger back in the other direction.

“Unfortunately, it just does so much more damage than it does good. In finding a common goal for the future we have to find things we have in common, to work together towards that goal.”

A report has been filed with Vancouver police, who recommended that the shelter install CCTV cameras to prevent further vandalism.

One of the windows of Vancouver Rape Relief & Women’s Shelter on Tuesday morning (Twitter/@Vanraperelief)

Shelter denied federal funding.

The shelter, which also campaigns for the abolition of prostitution, reportedly has a budget of $827,000 in US dollars.

It previously received community service grants, but the city of Vancouver stripped the shelter’s public funding earlier this year due to its ‘discriminatory’ policies.

“An organisation that discriminates against people on the basis of fundamentally protective rights should always be denied public taxpayers’ funding, whether it’s in the form of charity receipts or indirect funding,” Oger said at the time.

“I do understand that they have fought since day one for women’s rights, and sometimes people that have been in the trenches, they have been in the trenches for too long.

Trans activist Morgane Oger speaking to CityNews

“Vancouver Rape Relief is the last rape relief organisation in B.C., that I know of, that discriminates the way they do.”

The shelter’s website states: “We know that people whose behaviour is not consistent with the patriarchal socially imposed definition of manhood or womanhood, including trans people, suffer discrimination and violence.

“Trans people deserve and must live in safety, and have the equal rights and opportunities that are promised to us all.

“While some of our core services are not open to people who do not share our life experience of being born females and raised as girls into our current womanhood, we have a collective commitment to see to the safety anyone who calls our crisis line, including trans people.”

More: anti-transgender, Canada, Vancouver, women's shelter

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