A transgender activist who had city funding stripped from Canada’s oldest rape shelter has been awarded a medal as a ‘champion of diversity’.
Morgane Oger, a transgender woman, was given a Meritorious Service Medal by Canadian Governor-General Mary Simon on December 7.
Official photos show her receiving the award alongside dozens of other Canadians honored for their ‘exceptional deeds’.
Oger said she was ‘feeling so grateful’ to get a medal for ‘furthering the legal protections of transgender Canadians’.
An award citation called Oger a ‘champion of diversity’ who changed perceptions of LGBTQI+ rights and worked ‘tirelessly’ to make them law.
‘She forged alliances across party lines that propelled changes to provincial and federal legislation protecting individuals against discrimination based on gender identity or expression,’ it read.
‘Her courage, vision and perseverance have helped redefine the fundamental issue of equality and have advanced inclusiveness for gender-diverse Canadians.’
Oger was chosen for the award in 2018 and it was unclear why it took five years for her to actually receive it.
‘It feels really, really, really nice. We don’t live in a day and age where medals come about very often, and the campaign to bring equality still has a lot of road ahead of us,’ she said at the time.
Oger was at the time spearheading an effort to strip Vancouver Rape Relief of city funding because it refused to shelter transgender women.
Vancouver City Council in March 2019 pulled its CAN$34,000 a year grant from 2020 unless the shelter, the oldest in Canada that began in 1974, changed its policy.
‘Trans women are women and sex work is work. Trans women and sex workers deserve care and protection,’ Councilor Christine Boyle said at the time.
‘I can’t support orgs who exclude them, so I won’t be supporting city funding for Vancouver Rape Relief.’
Councilor Sarah Kirby-Yung said added: ‘They have done fantastic work and are a valuable service, but we wanted to make sure they extend it for everyone. If we are giving public funds, we need to give it to organizations that are inclusive.
‘I don’t want to live in a community that is not inclusive and reject people especially if someone is going through trauma.’
Oger told the council as it deliberated that the shelter was violating the city’s trans equality and inclusion criteria, adopted in 2016, and was saying transgender women were men, not women.
The shelter said being stripped of funding was ‘discrimination against women in the name of inclusion’ and accused the city of trying to ‘coerce us to change our position’.