I have the immense privilege of meeting and befriending activists across the city, discussing our personal and community work surrounding LGBTQ+ issues.
Special collaboration: Alex Simon is an American-born and Montreal-based student interested in LGBTQ+ and trans realities. They themselves being non-binary, they proposed the idea to GrS Montreal of writing articles on their blog TransAvenue.
Alex Simon: If you feel comfortable sharing, how would you describe yourself in terms of queer and trans identity? (transmasculine, transfeminine, non-binary, etc) What pronouns do you use?
June Pilote: I’m a non-binary trans-masculine human and I use they/them pronouns in English and il/lui in French. I don’t strongly relate to any non-binary pronouns in French, so I decided to go with the “masculine” alternative.
AS: What kind of activism do you do in the LGBTQ+ community?
JP: I’ve been doing LGBTQ+ activism for a little more than 5 years now. I started with being on different organizations’ boards, doing active peer support and facilitating workshops. These days, I’m the executive director for AlterHéros, an online resource for and by LGBTQ+ people, where we answer questions regarding sexuality, gender identity, sexual orientation and plenty of other subjects. We also offer services for and by neurodiverse LGBTQ+ youth, peer support, social events, resource sharing, etc. I also have an online presence where I talk about my gender transition, and my queer identity in general. Through my Instagram, podcast and blog, I discuss stuff like my top surgery, gender dysphoria and what sex toys can alleviate dysphoria!
AS: What is your academic background? Your current career or dream career?
JP: With the mental health stuff that comes with being queer and trans, I was never able to finish a degree. I did 2 years of a bachelor in history back in 2011, and a year and a half of gender studies at Concordia University in 2017.
AS: What queer/trans/gender non-conforming role models did you have growing up?
JP: None (laughs). I first had access to the internet when I was 14 years old, I did a few research on lesbian and gay stuff, but never about gender identity. I always felt a discomfort with my gender, but never had the words to describe it. I first started to hear about trans stuff when I got to university and met Sophie Labelle in 2013. Being friends with her really opened my eyes to what being trans is, and how I don’t need to live with the discomfort my whole life.
AS: What was your coming-out experience with your family, friends and colleagues?
JP: For friends, I mostly had LGBTQ+ friends, so rather easy. For my family a bit harder, I’m still dealing with a bunch of feelings regarding that, so I prefer not to talk about it too much. You can hear me talk about my coming out story in the first episode of my podcast “C’est quoi mon genre” (in French).
AS: What is something you wished a younger self would’ve known in regard to self-love and acceptance as a queer/trans person? About your relationships with other people?
JP: That I’m not alone, that it will be hard but worth it. That being trans and queer is not as lonely as I think and that I will discover myself along the way.
AS: What do you think the next steps in advancing queer and trans rights would be? What issues should be brought to the spotlight?
JP: So many issues! Rights for trans migrants, easier access to surgery and hormonal replacement therapy for everyone, more coverage for trans-feminine affirming surgery (including Facial feminisation surgery and hair removal), etc.
AS: What advice would you give to queer/trans people starting to discover their true selves?
JP: If you can, follow trans people on social media platforms, surround yourself with digital trans acceptance. You don’t have to come out if it’s not safe or accessible, for you.