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Organizers, mom disagree as to why transgender 9-year-old was barred from Guelph Women's Day event

Mom feels it was because son is transgender, organizer say it was because it was an adult-only event
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A Guelph woman is demanding an apology after she says her 9-year-old son, who is transgender, was refused entry to an International Women's Day event held in Guelph earlier this month.

But the organizers of the event said it had nothing to do with him being transgender, rather it was because the event was not open to children.

Martha Inglis said that her son Max is still upset and because of the way he was refused entry to the International Women's Day "Be Bold For Change" celebration organized by Shelldale Better Beginnings, Better Futures on March 8 in the Shelldale Community Centre gymnasium.

She said Max is male to female transgender who currently still uses male pronouns. He has outwardly identified as female since he was around five.

Inglis said a staff member stopped them and said Max couldn't enter because it was a women's event only.

"I said 'but he's transgender' and she said 'I don't care,'" Inglis said.

Max, she said, heard this and was very upset, "saying 'They don't care about me?'"

After a brief discussion, Inglis, Max and her other children left.

Inglis later took to Facebook to detail her account of the incident.

"To be honest, I think it had to do with the fact Max is who he is," Inglis said.

"He wears dresses. He wears pink. He wears sparkles. This is who he is and he loves who he is," Inglis said.

"This is not about me, this is about Max and his feelings."

Better Beginnings, Better Futures Executive Director Lorri Sauve is concerned the event is being misinterpreted and that her staff is being unfairly criticized on social media.

Sauve said Inglis was told two days prior to the event that it was for adults only (something Inglis denies) and that the "I don't care" comment by the staff member referred to the fact Max is a child, not that he is transgender.

"It was an exclusive women's celebration, not for children," Sauve said and that "not in any way, shape or form" did it have anything to do with the fact Max is transgender.

"The whole reason we do what we do is to offer a safe and inclusive space for everyone," Sauve said.

Attempts to discuss the matter haven't gone well.

Sauve and Inglis spoke on the phone later that week. Both women claim the other hung up the phone on them.

Sauve said she is more than willing to discuss the matter further with Inglis, but there has been no further contact since the phone call.

Inglis said she isn't prepared to discuss the matter with Sauve until Max gets an apology from the staff member.

Inglis points out that Max has attended after school programs at the Shelldale Centre in the past with no problems and that the Better Beginnings, Better Futures program has done wonderful things for the community and for her family.

"There are some wonderful people there and they do amazing things. I just think some of their staff need some better training in diversity and inclusion," Inglis said.


Tony Saxon

About the Author: Tony Saxon

Tony Saxon has had a rich and varied 20 year career as a journalist, an award winning correspondent, columnist, reporter, feature writer and photographer.
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