City stops funding rape shelter over refusal to admit men who identify as women

VRR protest
Protesters in favor of Vancouver Rape Relief hold signs outside the city government buildings in Vancouver. |

The Vancouver City Council has voted to deny funding for a women’s rape shelter over its policy of only allowing women into its peer counseling program, arguing that it discriminates against men who identify as women.

Vancouver Rape Relief in British Columbia — the oldest shelter of its kind in Canada founded 47 years ago — saw its funding withdrawn this week by council members who argued that their policies of protecting female victims have resulted in a "lack of inclusivity," reports say.

The Vancouver City Council voted against renewing the shelter's grant over its sex-specific policy, allowing only women to access its peer counseling area.

Vancouver Rape Relief will still be allowed to conduct its affairs as it chooses, council member Sarah Kirby Young told CityNews, but they won't be allowed to receive city funding. 

"What it does is affirm that the city has an inclusive welcoming policy and that when we are providing city funds and taxpayer funds to organizations we want them to be ones that are inclusive of all people."

The effort to strip the organization of its $34,000 grant was spearheaded by left-wing politician Morgane Oger. Oger, a man who identifies as transgender, has long claimed that Vancouver Rape Relief has engaged in hateful prejudice against people based on their "gender identity," which in 2016 was added as protected grounds to Canada's human rights law and criminal code through bill C-16.

Vancouver Rape Relief is of a progressive radical feminist bent in its approach to serving the community, stressing that while they have services available to everyone regardless of how they may identify, the peer-counseling aspect is reserved for women.

"Just like any other oppressed group has the right to come together to work on that particular piece, so do women as a class," said Karla Gjini of Vancouver Rape Relief in an interview with CityNews. 

Unlike third wave liberal feminism, radical feminists have long contended that women have been and continue to be oppressed and discriminated against on the basis of their biology, not a self-constructed identity, and that including males who declare themselves female in the legal definition of woman is foolish and represents an existential threat to their hard-won sex-based rights and female-only spaces.

Vancouver Rape Relief has long maintained that forcing females — particularly those recovering from rape and other forms of male violence — to share intimate spaces with males, even if they present as female, is disrespectful of the victims and often serves to re-traumatize them.

"Being born female still means being trained, socialized and forced to submit to male domination. The fact that we are born female and raised as girls to adulthood as women shapes our lives in profound ways," the shelter said in a March 2019 online statement following a previous city council vote to terminate their city funding.

"Being girls and women in this world often impacts both how we look and how we act in private and in public; what we are allowed to do, encouraged to do and rewarded for; and also what we are discouraged from doing, prohibited to do or punished for."

In August the shelter was vandalized, with phrases such as "Kill TERFS" and "Trans power" scrawled on the windows of their facility and a dead and decaying rat was nailed one of the doors.

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