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P.E.I. Transgender Network gets new office but still faces funding challenges

It’s quiet inside Lucky Fusca’s new office.

Wooden partitions make each desk space feel private while also being visually more appealing than the average office cubicle.

Fusca’s desk is decorated with trans flags and other pink and blue items.

Lucky Fusca is happy to finally move into a public office space on Fitzroy Street on Nov. 1 as the executive director for the P.E.I. Transgender Network.
Lucky Fusca (they/them) is happy to finally move into a public office space on Fitzroy Street on Nov. 1 as the executive director for the P.E.I. Transgender Network. Photo by Ezra Santana.

The executive director for the P.E.I. Transgender Network (PEITN) is overjoyed to finally have their public space – even though the new office building is shared with Creative P.E.I.

“Having worked out of my apartment, it wasn’t a space that was appropriate to do this, like have an interview with someone, to make space to have one-to-one chats and do peer support with community members, to collaborate with other organizations or individuals on different upcoming projects, so having access to this space is game changing in that regard,” said Fusca.

The PEITN received federal funding for a two-and-a-half-year project that will focus on building the organization’s capacity and internal structure. A small portion of that funding was allocated to the office space.

“It’s so wonderful to have a space that PEITN can call home in the public sphere and I think it really is a step in the right direction as far as building our capacity and our physical presence in the community."

Fusca said they face challenges in their advocacy, both from inside and outside the queer community.

“The first and probably most obvious one would be facing bigotry. I will get different calls or requests for interviews from different larger news sources on P.E.I. and often times, unfortunately, like the comment section will be left open or there’s not much moderating being done… or maybe there is and they just don’t see it the same way that I do when I see certain hate comments or bigotry unfolding in those articles.”

Fusca’s position within PEITN brings safety concerns. Their name was brought up in Facebook groups and articles in other provinces, where offensive words were used.

“It’s not even just a local conversation. Being an activist or advocating for a marginalized community does, to a certain degree, come with accepting personal risk.”

Emboldened and often hateful discourse against the 2SLGBTQIA+ community has drawn bigots out of the shadows, said PEITN’s executive director.

“They feel comfortable being able to call people slurs in the streets and say the very disgusting language or claims towards community members.”

Fusca is not the only one who has faced the challenges that come with advocating for transgender people on the Island.

Anastasia Preston, the trans community outreach co-ordinator for PEERS Alliance, began advocating for the trans community around the time she started her own transition six years ago.

Preston says a lot of myths surrounding trans people could be dissuaded if people had basic education on what it means to be trans.

“Trans people exist. Being trans is biologically normal. It’s rare, but it’s still within the normal range of human existence.”

Laws protecting trans and gender diverse people are recent. Until June 2017, the community was not included under human rights or hate-crime laws in Canada.

“Things are changing, even though sometimes it seems like we’re regressing. One of the best ways that we can resist transphobia is by being ourselves and being joyous in that because trans joy is medicine, trans joy is resistance.”

Preston and Fusca are the only ones with full-time positions specifically dedicated to advocating for the transgender community in P.E.I.

Although Fusca’s position is fully funded by the government, their contract is only valid for a year and will be over in March 2024.

“This is a very important role. And again, as of right now it’s the only paid role for the organization… but there is technically no security there, so my hope is to secure a longer-term contract from the government to help fortify our strategic planning going forwards,” they said.

The organization received the first round of the Gender, Equity, Diversity, Inclusion (GEDI) provincial funding, with which they set up an event series called Break the Cis-tem – advocating and celebrating the transgender and gender diverse community.

The PEITN is hoping to be selected for the second round of the funding, which would help set up a different event series for the community.

“We’re here for you. We might not always have the answers but we’re absolutely committed to finding them. We’re tenacious in the way that we love and the way that we advocate and make space to really centre what it means to be in community with one another.”

 

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My name is Ezra (they/them) and I’m an aspiring storyteller who is half-way through a Journalism and Communications program at Holland College, P.E.I. 

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