Gabrielle Bouchard a transgender representative, has been the president of the Federation of Women of Quebec (FFQ) since December, a veteran institution with more than half a century of life, which has about 300 affiliated organizations.
Bouchard, 49, stepped-up to the post after coordinating for six years the Center for Combating Gender Oppression in Montreal.
However, these four months of mandate have not been easy for the president, who has been in the midst of a controversy with the feminist movement ever since. The reason? Bouchard is a transgender woman.
Writer and journalist Denise Bombardier, a leading figure in Canadian feminism, wrote in Le Journal de Montreal : “How can she speak on behalf of all women, she who has been trained in the masculine culture, ignoring the experiences lived by women since childhood?.
” At his side, Diane Guilbault, president of the Association for the Rights of Women of Quebec, who said on television that the very foundations of feminism are at risk for appointments of this kind.
“Every woman has the right to support their way of life if it is the result of a free decision that respects those of others,” Bouchard told reporters about the controversy caused by his condition.
The voices in his favor claim that his presidency reflects the evolution of society and underlines the years of Bouchard’s militancy in the movement.
Against the argument that she did not have the experience of living a childhood as a child, Bouchard replies: “What are the experiences shared by all women? That question is never asked to a white woman, of a wealthy and heterosexual class.
There are also other realities: trans women, indigenous people, immigrants, lesbians. We fight for the plurality that exists in society and, obviously, also in feminism, “he says.
Bouchard believes that his life experience should not be the subject of attention. That is why he prefers to save details about his own change. But he emphasizes that his was the election in which there was more participation.
Quebec scores very high, on a global scale, in indicators such as the presence of women in university classrooms or the public network of day-care centers. But Bouchard is cautious: “The more we advance, the more complex the battles become. We have left women behind. For example, because of wage inequality. In Quebec, women earn on average 20% less than men, but groups such as those of black, indigenous or Muslim women perceive up to 40% less, “he says.
When released from the controversy, Bouchard has decided to focus his presidency on minority women, an issue that has also brought him criticism because that means fragmenting the movement. “Feminism has always advanced in the midst of battles. Minority groups require specific attention. We do not want to repeat the mistakes of the past. Some women, however, abandon the struggle because they feel that it does not respond to their interests. That seems unacceptable to me. “
Taichi instructor and a fan of science fiction literature, Bouchard will soon be half a century old, reason enough to celebrate with a party. “I feel very happy. When you are a trans woman, the chances of dying before are very great, “she says.
According to the official statistics of the country, the female life expectancy is 84 years.
But there are no figures on trans women, although reports from some groups point out that they live about 40 years less because of factors such as violence, suicides and problems of access to health services.