Minister of National Defence Video Message for Transgender Awareness Week

Video / November 15, 2021


My name is Anita Anand, Minister of National Defence. My pronouns are she and her.

I would like to begin by acknowledging that we are gathered on the unceded and traditional territory of the Algonquin Anishinaabeg peoples.

Every year, we mark Transgender Awareness Week, from November 13th to 19th.

Transgender Awareness week is an opportunity to help raise the visibility of transgender people and address issues that members of the community face.

And, on November 20th –The Transgender Day of Remembrance – we honour members of the Trans community who were murdered in acts of bigotry and anti-trans violence.

Transgender and gender diverse people deserve to be seen, heard, and respected…

And to live free from the threat of violence and discrimination.

But, tragically, we know that, for many people, this is far from the reality.

Members of the Trans community face bullying, harassment, and violence at higher rates than cisgender people…

Including in the workplace—including in our workplace.

Our organization has a painful history of harmful and discriminatory practices against LGBTQ2+ CAF members and Public Service employees—a history we’re just beginning to unpack and understand.

We know we need to do more to build a culture of true inclusivity.

As your new Minister National of Defence, I’ve already been briefed on the important culture change efforts going on across the institution, and I’m ready to join you in this movement. 

With so many people dedicated to making sure our organization is inclusive and equitable—including those working in the new Chief, Professional Conduct and Culture—I know we will get there.

And no matter your role, every Defence Team member can take concrete steps to build a safer, more welcoming environment for our Trans colleagues.

Being deliberate with the language we use, including respecting and referring to people by their pronouns…

Inviting and engaging each other to share and contribute…

Listening and learning how we can best support them…

And celebrating the important work they do—not just during Trans Awareness Week, but every single day.

I’m grateful for the hard work and dedication of people like Master Sailor Erin Rautenstrauch, a Naval Combat Information Operator stationed at CFB Esquimalt.

Master Sailor Rautenstrauch is a Co-Chair for the MARPAC chapter of the Defence Team Pride Advisory Organization.

In this role, they provide valuable advice and recommendations to Defence Team members at all levels, and foster a positive, inclusive environment for LGBTQ2+ members on the West Coast.

I’m grateful for the hard work of Sergeant J.P. Tessier-Guay, a Preventative Medicine Technician at the Canadian Forces Health Services Training Centre in Borden.

When she first tried to come out over ten years ago, the environment was much different and much less welcoming.

But over the last year, their chain of command has supported their transition fully, and Sgt Tessier-Guay has continued their important work while living as their true, authentic self.

We’ve come a long way as an organization in how we support our Transgender colleagues—but we know we still have a long way to go.

It’s up to all of us to be open, respectful, and engaged…

And to change the culture of our institution to one that is safer and more inclusive for all our Defence Team members.

Thank you.

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