On May 2, someone started a fire at the Centre de chirurgie plastique de Montréal, the world-class clinic where Dr. Brassard & Dr. Bélanger perform gender reassignment surgeries for trans people, causing more than a hundred thousand dollars in damages and shutting down the clinic. Although the culprit hasn’t been identified yet, many are speculating that the arson was a hate crime targeting trans communities.
But it’s not a hate crime. It’s terrorism.
If it’s confirmed that the arsonist targeted the clinic because it provided body modifications to trans people, and that’s very likely, we should recognize that it’s not because they hate us. It’s because they want to scare us. It’s because they want services to be denied to us.
If it’s really about us, then it’s not blind hate: that fire was a precise strike directed right at our rights and our bodies.
Luckily no one was killed. Still, this will be a major disruption. Both vaginoplasty and phalloplasty require very long recovery time. Trans people from all over the world went to that clinic, especially for vaginoplasty. All the arrangment they did are gone: the plane they booked, the vacation time they took away from work, all that was for nothing. Although what I hear on the grapevine is that the clinic should be back up within a month, and please don’t quote me on this, I expect for many people the fire will create much longer delays.
And no matter what, we will now know that we can’t be safe there anymore. That the arsonist, or someone with similar goals, might strike back. Because now, trans health is a terrorist target, just like abortions.
No, I don’t think it’s random that it happens now. We just ended the most violent years for trans women, with dozens of murders in North America, and we’re still fighting teeth and nails against Canadian Conservatives and US Republicans trying to implement laws restricting access to bathrooms for trans people, from the Plett amendment here in Canada to House Bill 2 in North Carolina. While cis progressives celebrate trans celebrities on front pages of magazines, violence is fiercer than ever because of the climate of trans hypervisibility we live in.
As I said, there is a possibility that I’m overreacting. After all, they haven’t found the culprit yet, we don’t know their motive, and it could very well be something completely unrelated. But I’m pretty sure my gut feeling is right. And if it is, we can’t afford to merely say it’s a hate crime. Because what happened is what terrorism looks like.