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TransCare BC – Is it time for a tug?

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Just the ramblings
of an uppity queer
woman

A man is only as good as his word.



First off, we are going to leave the discussion of the inherent patriarchal bias of current English to another week, which I promise will be soon. This week, to keep our eyes on the TransCare life support plug, we are going to translate this aphorism into modern English and restate it as; a person is only as good as their word. Agreed? There are a million variants to this concept, but we are going to go with Jung’s definition, “You are what you do, not what you say you’ll do” which gets us around to the uppity Queer tugging on our plug for TRANSCARE BC.

Let’s make sure we have clarity on the plug we are talking about. Pulling the plug literally means cutting off life support. Life support requires lines; breathing, fluids and wastes. The community has their hands on one, TRANSCARE on another and  Terry Lake probably has a hand on one by himself. Between us lies the program, dependent on everyone.  Our separate lines together create the trust that gives life to the program.

Your perception may be that they don’t need us and we have no plug to pull.  I beg to differ. And before the howls start about unreasonable expectations and hands where they ought not to be, let me say that I am just asking the question – Is it time to think about pulling the plug?

Whenever we do things together in life there is an agreement. The next time you update your IPhone you will be required to agree to a 30 page legal document outlining the parameters for both you and Apple. That agreement is written to protect Apple’s interests, not yours. Still, you expect Apple not to fuck you over any more than anyone else and provide at least a token respect of your rights as a consumer in regard to privacy and products.

Your understanding and expectation is the implicit part of the agreement, in contrast to the explicit language of the end user license agreement. All agreements have both. The implicit part exists in the environment in which the agreement occurs and is informed by it. An example of this is the prison system; numerous behaviours by inmates are tolerated in exchange for the reduced cost of managing a stabilized population. These behaviours violate the penal code that governs prisons. A different example is the power of the oral traditions of the Douglas Treaties.

When Jimmy Douglas scrambled ashore Quadra’s and Vancover’s Island in the early 1840’s, Victoria was just getting used to being bedded by her cousin Albert, the Yanks were in the middle of the Seminole War, and the Union Act had just joined Upper and Lower Canada. Everyone was busy, and he was on his own. So he set about establishing agreements with the people who were in control of the land so the settlers could ‘settle’. Ideas of a colony were almost a decade away. This was an agreement between two parties who had no common language and only the settlers had a written form.

Jimmy had to get a deal done, the settlers were far from their supply bases and vulnerable. In those years, the first nations people were the dominant culture. Douglas had to do the deal according to their culture, that is, an oral agreement. While our settler legal system has favoured the written form of the agreement over the years, the persistence of that oral agreement has continued to modify treaty terms for over 100 years. This is the power of the implicit agreement.

When the province of BC consulted with the gender non-conforming / trans community about their health program, it too was an agreement. It is possible that the province does not even understand it is an agreement. James Douglas did not understand he was negotiating a treaty. Like First Nations and Douglas there is a wide gulf between us and the masters of our program. I can only tell you  that I was there, and it is an agreement. Like all agreements it is both implicit and explicit.

The implicit portion of the agreement was built from the hours of discussion during the six months the committee met. The community designated four delegates on their behalf; Fin, Julia, Raven and myself, the uppity queer woman, to take their part in the conversation. The explicit portion is the public version of our report, if such a thing comes in existence. Today I am not sure we will ever see one.

I have asked committee executives numerous times when the report will be released. To their credit, last fall they spent time meeting and explaining what the problems were.  Since then they have been silent on the topic for months, and the last thing I was told was that; “(we should) pause on these one-one meetings.”  Uppity queers are like fish and house guests, pretty soon you wish them gone.

This gets us back to “a person is only as good as their word“, which in the language of this rant, means that the implicit part of an agreement is as important as the explicit. TransCare BC has not even met the explicit part (releasing the report) let alone the implicit.  The implicit part of the deal is that they should take care of business without us ragging on their asses.

The committee started over one year ago. TransCare BC has had millions at their disposal since last spring. For some reason never explained we don’t expect government to perform like private enterprise, but if someone had given us $3 million dollars nine months ago – you would be looking at something. The terms of the recommendations are pretty clear. (Except for release of a public copy) The first six months were designated for community consultation.  Though widespread, we are not a big community. How hard it could be to get the dozen most active community members on a conference call and ask them what their issues are? If feels like the past where a Vancouver centric organization spends little time engaging directly with communities across BC. We have been ignored by the regional health authorities for too long for them to have credibility, we expect direct dialogue. We cannot let the new program be built from the bad DNA of failed approaches.

If you or I were TRANSCARE BC, we could do it in a day, and spend very, very little of the millions at our disposal.

Underlying any agreement is trust. Trust is often compared to a joint bank account where we both make deposits and withdrawals. TransCare BC went into this with very little on their side of the ledger. They made some deposits during the work of the committee.  Anyone can run into a slow spot and get behind on deposits. But if they have been making deposits regularly, we trust them to catch up – if they at least let us know what the problem is.
That is what makes a ‘man’ only as good as his word. That is taking care of business.
We shouldn’t have to ask.

So what do you think?  Is it time to give TransCare BC a prod?  Have your say in this weeks TransCast – Where the GNC/T community gets to have their say.

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