Cowichan Valley resident Willa Atkinson is planning a Gender Identity Expression Day for Tuesday, May 28. (Facebook photo)

Cowichan transgender woman hosting Gender Identity Expression Day

“We need to have a public conversation about this.”

As a transgender woman in the Cowichan Valley, Willa Atkinson hasn’t always been comfortable about putting herself out there.

She decided that had to change recently after a presentation against SOGI 123, a program designed to improve the safety and inclusion of people of all sexual orientations and gender identities in schools.

“My bubble had been disturbed,” she said.

In response, Atkinson is organizing a Gender Identity Expression Day at the Cowichan Community Centre next Tuesday. Her hope is to bring Valley residents of all backgrounds together for a discussion “about transgender people and their place in this community and the world.”

“The conversation about transgender is dictated by the media and what people say on social media,” Atkinson said. “And we need to have a public conversation about this.”

Atkinson is the creator of Visibly Transgender, the first open and public group on Facebook for transgender people, and is also behind the Cowichan Valley Gender Identity Facebook group. At Tuesday’s event, she will host a public and open discussion about transgender people in our community, where participants are encouraged to ask questions and make comments.

“Having not spoken in public in 20 years, standing in front of an audience sharing my story and views is a form of my gender expression as I have found my voice and platform as a woman,” she wrote in the flyer for the event.

The special guest is Cynthia Fortlage, the CIO of GHY International who has been recognized by OUTstanding as one of the top 100 LGBT+ executives in the world for 2018.

“Her support and appearance at the Cowichan Valley Gender Expression Day is an honour,” Atkinson wrote in the flier. “She would be a wonderful transgender role model for everyone to meet.”

Fortlage’s next scheduled speaking appearance after Tuesday’s event will be at a global business leaders conference in Israel in June.

Other scheduled speakers include a Cowichan Tribes elder, Duncan United Church minister Keith Simmonds, and “transgender warrior” Bodhi Thompson Gardner.

Gender Identity Expression Day will take place on Tuesday, May 28 at the Cowichan Community Centre’s Somenos Room from 6-9 p.m.

Just Posted

Driver of stolen vehicle caught after fleeing accident scene in Chemainus

Section of Chemainus Road closed until suspect located and eventually taken into custody

Crofton Alternate Water Supply Project eliminates boil water advisories

System takes away the need to utilize Crofton Lake in the event of a disruption to mill source

Sun Bowl honours flag football history

Sun Bowl XXXIV paid tribute to the history of the Cowichan Women’s… Continue reading

North Cowichan wants regional growth strategy to curb urban sprawl

Municipality wants to end urban sprawl in Valley

Chemainus sea walk plans get a boost

North Cowichan to sign right-of-way agreements with VIHA

VIDEO: Acknowledging skeptics, finance minister vows to build Trans Mountain project

Bill Morneau said he recognizes ‘huge amount of anxiety’ in Calgary over future of oil and gas sector

Coming up in Cowichan: Spend Father’s Day fishing, or head to the BC Forest Discovery Centre

Deadline coming to register for class reunion The Cowichan Secondary Class of… Continue reading

30 years later: B.C. woman uses sidewalk chalk to reclaim site of her sexual assault

Vancouver woman didn’t think her powerful story, written in chalk, would ignite such support

Slain friend motivates rookie football player to make it with hometown B.C. Lions

Jaylen Sandhu, stabbed to death in 2014, a source of inspiration for promising RB Jamel Lyles

Home care for B.C.’s elderly is too expensive and falls short: watchdog

Report says seniors must pay $8,800 a year for daily visits under provincial home support program

B.C. ‘struggling’ to meet needs of vulnerable youth in contracted care: auditor

Auditor general says youth in contracted residential services may not be getting support they need

Pair of B.C. cities crack Ashley Madison’s ‘Infidelity Hotlist’

Data from the website reveals Abbotsford and Kelowna hottest spots for cheaters

Life’s work of talented B.C. sculptor leads to leukemia

Former Salmon Arm resident warns of dangers of chemical contact

Billboard posted along B.C.’s Highway of Tears to remember missing and murdered Indigenous women

Billboards featuring Indigenous artwork to be placed in Surrey, Kamloops and near Prince George

Most Read