If there's one thing Rita O'Link wants the community to know about transgendered people, it's that they typically live in fear.
The transgendered woman brings up a routine situation most adults have experienced many times — a police RIDE check.
“You're out for the first time going for a drive dressed up differently from what you're normally expected to,” O'Link said. “What are (the police) going to say to you? Take your own anxiety, and multiply it by 10. That's where we start.”
Two years ago, Greater Sudbury Police's inclusion team approached TG Innerselves, a local support group for transgendered people, with a view to improve its relationship with this community.
The two communities now consider themselves friends, said Greater Sudbury Police Sgt. Carrie-Lynn Hotson, a member of the police's inclusion team.
The collaboration ultimately resulted in the creation of a training video for agencies and organizations serving the transgendered community.
The 26-minute-long video, “Creating Awareness and Understanding of the Transgender Community,” was publicly screened for the first time May 28 at an event held at Sudbury Secondary School.
It includes interviews with several local transgendered people — including O'Link — as well as experts in gender issues, and examples of how organizations can interact with this community in a positive manner.
The video also outlines the implications of Toby's Law, which enshrines gender identity and gender expression in the Ontario Human Rights Code.
“My hope for this video is that every person in Ontario gets to see it,” said O'Link, community relations co-ordinator with TG Innerselves. “I want the conversations started.”
Before the video was finalized, it was reviewed by the Ontario Human Rights Commission. Barbara Hall, chief commissioner with the organization, was on hand for the video's launch.
She said although transgendered people's rights are now guaranteed in the Ontario Human Rights Code, having rights on paper is never enough. That's why the video is so important.
It “keeps pushing things forward to make sure that not only police services, but also other service providers and people in the community are more able to deeply understand the trans experience.”
The video is the work of 19-year-old Kaitlyn Greenough, a recent Canadore College television and video production graduate.
She began work on the video a year ago as a police service summer student, and has now been hired by Greater Sudbury Police as a multimedia specialist.
“I think with this video, it's going to bring awareness to the community,” Greenough said. “Everybody should be accepted for who they are. I think it's important that our community knows that.”
Anyone interested in obtaining a copy of the video for their organization is asked to phone Greater Sudbury Police at 705-675-9171.