March 31st every year marks the Day of Trans Visibility in Canada and around the globe. In 2023, Fife House wanted to mark and celebrate this important day by showcasing the amazing stories and work of our Trans-identifying employees. Lula identifies as a Trans woman and is currently working in foods services at Fife House’s Huntley location. We met with her to learn about her experience with Fife House as a previous client and current employee.
My name is Lula and I am 33 years old. I am from Yemen. I came to Canada in 2019. When I came to Canada I was on the streets, then I was in a shelter, and then I was a client at Fife House for a year. Then I got my government housing. I started my hormones and made my decision to transition at the end of 2021. Before that I was just who I am, I never thought about being Trans. I was dealing with a lot of racism and discrimination back in Yemen and when I lived in Indonesia too, so it made finding my identity challenging.
Do you think that your experience as a Trans-woman, an immigrant, and a person of colour impacts your experience here in Canada?
Yes. Definitely. The amount of discrimination I faced when I was in Yemen and Indonesia was difficult. When I was living in Yemen and also in Indonesia I faced discrimination because I was seen more as a feminine boy, not as a woman. I grew stronger from this experience. But when I came to Canada I felt more comfortable, but still I face discrimination and racism. For example when you visit places that remind you of home, like middle eastern cafes and restaurants. They still carry discriminatory views against Trans people and they are still resistant and close minded.
What does Trans awareness mean to you?
We definitely need more awareness to remind people who we are. We also need it to help other Trans people to see themselves represented. For example my friend did not even consider taking hormones as an option, but after I sat down and talked with her she started taking steps towards her transition. She said “Lula I think you are right and people need to learn more about who we are.”
People need to learn about us because we still face discrimination. They won’t say it to us directly but I can see it in their eyes. Especially when using the washroom. I don’t want to be seen as different or as a stranger. One time when I was invited to my friend’s birthday party at a bar in Toronto they said that I could not come because Trans people were not allowed to use their washrooms. There is still a need to raise awareness to prevent situations like this.
What is your experience working at Fife House as a Trans woman?
It has been great! Everyone is very respectful of my identity. It goes to show how much support I got as a client and now look at me I am working with them.
What is the best way for Fife House to support our Trans clients?
I always believe in listening. Even if they don’t talk and I feel like they want to talk about being Trans we can ask. For example, my friend who was thinking about transitioning. We chatted about our experience to help them make the choice. I think the government should give more access to Trans people when accessing healthcare. Specifically feminization surgeries and procedures such as laser hair removal. It is very expensive especially for immigrants and newcomers. Even many of our clients have this issue. Many Trans people have to work on the streets and take dangerous jobs to get money for these surgeries. I want Trans people to have more options in the future.
Thank you Lula for sharing your story and being an advocate for the Transgender community, staff, residents and clients at Fife House.