Our Roots, Our Engagement, Our Path
In the beginning …
Ottawa’s Gender Mosaic Inc. – Mosaique de Genres Inc. (GM) is Canada’s oldest transgender social and support group which started out in 1988 as a small, informal group of cross-dressers and transsexuals and a safe phone line. At that time, membership could be counted on the fingers of two hands. During those early years, GM was a member of the Tri-Ess Society for the Second Self – – a U.S. based organization.
When the community started to grow, and because of the diversity within the transgender community itself, GM Members needed to organize themselves. GM members elected an executive and created bylaws for self-regulation. The growing group met in a church hall and community centres for several years.
For the first few years, meetings took place in members’ homes and members occasionally ventured out to “verified safe” restaurants for special events such as Christmas dinner and occasionally for marches such as Capital Pride in 1994. As its membership increased, GM began to reach out and become more visible in the community and outreached to the GLB community finding an ally to defend our civil rights. In 1994, GM was present during the launch of the Ottawa Police Service Hate Crimes Unit, the first of its kind in Canada, and has maintained a presence ever since.
Gender Mosaic today
First there was one – – now there are many. Today GM is a very different organization. It is now a not-for-profit provincially incorporated organization. Today’s GM is open to all trans-identified people, both Male to Female and Female to Male, and all those questioning their gender identity in any form.
The organization’s records show that over the last 25 years, GM has welcomed thousands; some have stayed the course, but most have moved on for various reasons. GM has also supported hundreds of Eastern Ontario and Western Quebec National Capital Region individuals over the past twenty years or so. From active membership to regular communications and interactions through the e-list, GM now reunites more than 100 trans individuals and supporters.
On average, 20 to 30 current members attend the group’s monthly social pot-luck dinners. In addition to these monthly meetings, GM hosts an annual BBQ in cottage country and a Christmas party that regularly draws friends and supporters from far and wide. Smaller groups also arrange twice-monthly outings to local restaurants as well as outings to malls, theatres and various special community events.
GM also organizes a monthly discussion group to discuss a wide range of trans-identified issues in a safe and supportive environment. You can find information on all these events and more on the GM web site under “Events and Activities.”
A part of your community
GM’s very active outreach program includes public education sessions for employers, educators, social service providers and others who wish to learn more about transgenderism. GM also participates, on an official level, in a wide variety of other Gay Lesbian Bisexual Transgender (GLBT ) organizations and events including Capital Pride, the Ottawa Police Liaison Committee, Kind (formerly Pink Triangle Services), the Seniors Pride Network and Parents and Friends of Lesbians and Gays (PFLAG – note that this group is also trans* inclusive). GM and its members are proud participants in many mainstream charitable efforts including the OPP Christmas Angel program as well as trans-specific events such as the Transgender Day of Remembrance.
Many GM members are also involved in creating links with other trans organizations in Canada and in the USA as they aim to join forces for more public education and lobbying for changes to create a more accepting society for all transgender people.
As GM becomes increasingly visible, the wider community itself is definitely taking notice.
In 2012, Gender Mosaic was honoured as Capital Pride’s Community Group of the Year.
Looking back … and looking ahead
We are making definite progress. There is no doubt that our lives as transgender individuals have become better today than ever before. When twenty years ago we usually faced discrimination based on misinformation and fear, today the more common reaction is empathy, respect and acceptance.
But even as we reap the benefits of the trailblazers of the 1970s, such as Virginia Prince and Carol Beecroft who have made today’s reality possible, the fact remains that we still have some way to go.
Others have also trod down similar paths as the trans-identified community, faced similar formidable challenges and, in the end, created positive and indelible change in society. Fifty years ago, Martin Luther King “had a dream.” Nelson Mandela kept that dream alive and today … we have Barack Obama in the White House.
And the beat goes on!
Gender Mosaic Activities
- Monthly Social
- Dinner Outings
- The “Q”
- Annual Christmas Party
Gender Mosaic Primary Goals and Objectives
Provide varied forums and resources to assist in the personal development, growth, and contact of its members with the transgendered community.
- Promote knowledge and understanding of transgendered behaviour in all its variations.
- Build a sense of community and make contact with other organizations or individuals sharing similar objectives that may benefit or further the objectives of Gender Mosaic.
- Work towards removing all forms of barriers toward these goals.
- Membership is open to anyone who supports the Goals and Objectives of GM provided that she has reached the age of nineteen (19) years and has been screened by the Membership Committee.
- A Regular Member in good standing shall have full voting rights and shall receive all official bulletins and newsletters of GM. A Regular Member shall pay such dues as have been set from time to time by the membership at a General Meeting.
Gender Mosaic Disclaimer
Neither Gender Mosaic nor its members shall be presumed to provide counselling services.