From Gay Rights to Trans Wrongs: Egale’s Lucrative Transition
By Eva Kurilova
How a gay rights organization became obsessed with gender and made millions in the process.
No picture of the key players behind the push for gender ideology in Canada is complete before mentioning Egale. In fact, you could hardly begin to speak about the problem without noting this organization's substantial influence on policy, law, and public sentiment in this country.
Even those who are not familiar with Egale by name may have seen the controversial poster that the organization has been putting in Ontario schools for at least the past five years. This poster teaches kids that being a woman or a man has nothing to do with sex and that one can be “both,” or “neither,” or “a mix of the two.” This is a good summary of Egale’s ideological stance today.
More recently, Egale has been in the headlines and the talk of gender critical circles for filing legal action against the Saskatchewan government over its new policy regarding preferred names and pronouns in schools. This policy requires schools to obtain parental consent before using a new name or pronoun for students under 16.
On August 29, 2023, Egale released a letter to the Saskatchewan Minister of Education as a representative of the UR Pride Centre for Sexuality and Gender Diversity at the University of Regina demanding a pause to the implementation of the policy. On September 28, a judge granted an injunction to stop the policy from taking effect, but Saskatchewan Premier Scott Moe said he would invoke the notwithstanding clause to ensure the policy is implemented.
Egale’s meddling in provincial policy is eyebrow-raising when you consider that the organization has received massive amounts of federal funding over the years. A search of the Government of Canada website for grants and contributions to the organization turns up 30 entries totalling over 10 million dollars since 2017.
The money has come from various departments, including Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada, the Public Health Agency of Canada, Health Canada, the Department for Women and Gender Equality, the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada, Canadian Heritage, the Department of Justice Canada, Public Safety Canada, and Employment and Social Development Canada.
Nowadays, Egale’s main objective with this money seems to be to push the fantasy of gender transition on children, but this was not always the case. The organization was actually started to fight for the civil rights of gay and lesbian people.
Even the name “Egale” was initially an acronym that stood for "Equality for Gays and Lesbians Everywhere." However, the name was deemed not “inclusive” enough in 2001 and it was changed from the acronym E.G.A.L.E. to simply "Egale" (the French word for “equal”).
Today, Egale’s mission statement reads: To improve the lives of 2SLGBTQI people in Canada and to enhance the global response to 2SLGBTQI issues.
This is quite different from what the situation was in 1986 when Egale was founded with the express goal of advocating for an amendment to the Canadian Human Rights Act to include sexual orientation.
In those earlier days, Egale acted as an intervenor on two key court cases that pushed gay rights forward in Canada: Egan v. Canada in 1995, which added sexual orientation to the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, and Halpern v. Canada 2003, which found that the common-law definition of marriage violated the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. This led to Michael Leshner and Michael Stark becoming the first married same-sex couple in Canada.
In 2005, the Civil Marriage Act ensured marriage equality throughout the country.
That same year, Egale was still rooted in reality and hadn’t yet been fully captured by what we now know as “gender ideology.” While it had expanded its mandate to include “trans,” its choice of language around this time is telling.
In a presentation to the House of Commons Subcommittee in April 2005, Egale described itself as a “national organization committed to advancing equality and justice for lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans-identified people, and their families, across Canada.”
I found the use of the phrase “trans-identified” quite interesting, as I had assumed it was a phrase later coined by gender critical people to highlight that while someone might say they identify as “trans,” trans is not a concrete and objective reality that one can actually be.
In the same presentation, Egale also boasted that “Our Board of Directors is comprised of an elected male and female representative from each of six regions of Canada,” recognizing the reality of the two sexes.
That all started to change in 2007 when Egale hired a new executive director named Helen Kennedy.
Previously involved in politics, Kennedy served as city councillor in East York from 1988 to 1991. In 1999, she started working for Toronto city councillor (and current Toronto Mayor) Olivia Chow as the constituency assistant in Ward 20. When Chow resigned to run for federal office in 2006, Kennedy campaigned for her position. Among her top endorsements were Chow herself and Green Party of Canada leader Elizabeth May. However, Kennedy did not win the nomination.
Instead, she ended up at Egale.
Helen Kennedy / Egale.ca
"Toronto's Helen Kennedy to take on the troubled lobby group” reads the subhead of a 2007 article in Xtra magazine.
The article describes Egale as “beleaguered” after a year of “turmoil” that led to several departures by staff and board members. Memberships and donations were down, and Egale had gone from a surplus of $30,000 in 2005 to a deficit of $13,000 in 2006. With equal marriage won, the article asked whether it was worth pulling Egale “back from the brink” at all.
A motivated Kennedy seemed ready and eager to take on her role despite these troubles. “I want to advocate,” she told Xtra. “I am an activist and a lifelong feminist. I believe all equal rights issues are feminist and all true feminists are activists for equal rights.”
Anyone who is familiar with this kind of language knows exactly where Kennedy was going with this.
“Our next battle,” she continued, “is the rights of trans [people]…. I’m sure one of the issues will be SRS [sex reassignment surgery].”
She planned for one of her first actions as executive director to be a meeting with Egale’s trans committee to learn about its vision for the organization.
Under Kennedy’s leadership, Egale also began pivoting its focus onto a younger cohort. In late 2007, the organization launched its national climate survey on homophobia, biphobia, and transphobia in Canadian schools. From December 2007 to June 2009, Egale surveyed over 3,700 self-identified “lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans, Two Spirit, queer, or questioning” students.
In the meantime, Kennedy continued her focus on sex reassignment surgery. In April 2009, Egale and the Canadian Professional Association for Transgender Health sent an open letter to the Alberta Minister of Health and Wellness, Ronald Liepert.
The letter was in response to Alberta’s decision to delist SRS as a benefit of Alberta’s health care system, a decision that the letter called “arbitrary” and “discriminatory.”
The letter also notes that:
The United Nations Working Group on Human Rights recently recommended that Canada implement the Yogyakarta principles as a guide to assist in policy development when addressing sexual orientation and gender identity issues. Principle 17 is explicit and states: “facilitate access by those seeking body modifications related to gender reassignment to competent, non-discriminatory treatment, care and support.”
(Released in 2007, the Yogyakarta Principles is a document that set the stage for the global push behind gender self-ID. Read more about it here.)
Egale’s new focus on “trans” was paying off. In June 2009, Maclean’s reported that the advocacy group “held its first-ever big gala in Toronto’s Le Meridien King Edward Hotel.” Kennedy noted that Egale had never had so many MPs at an event. And the keynote speaker was none other than current Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.
The organization continued full steam ahead. In 2011, it published the results of its national student survey, claiming to have uncovered a “shocking” level of homophobia, biphobia and transphobia in Canadian schools, except, apparently, in schools with active Gender and Sexuality Alliances (GSAs).
In response, Egale launched a website “dedicated to supporting and connecting Canadian youth, educators and parents.” This also provided a pretext for Egale to launch its national Safer and Accepting Schools Program “to provide training and support to educators and students.”
Not limiting its focus on young people strictly to schools, Egale also launched Youth OUTreach in 2014. The goal of the program was to provide direct services to homeless “LGBTQI2S” youth, including a drop-in space and counselling services. This was followed by the opening of the Egale Centre in 2016, which was billed as “Canada’s first dedicated LGBTQ Youth Shelter.”
At the same time, Egale was setting its sights on sports. In its 2016 Annual Report, the organization writes:
Egale works to make Canadian sport more inclusive for LGBTQI2S participants. Egale has partnered with the Canadian Olympic Committee, and was a founding member of both PrideHouse Vancouver and PrideHouseTO to make sport in Canada more LGBTQI2S-inclusive. Egale is also the Canadian partner of You Can Play Inc., which works to ensure safety and inclusion for all who participate in sports, including LGBT athletes, coaches and fans. By working together with You Can Play, Egale is able to help ensure that sports teams focus on athlete’s skills, work ethic, and competitive spirit - not their sexual orientation and/or gender identity. Egale provides education, resources, events and programs for athletes, staff, coaches, leagues and organizations.
Sexual orientation, of course, is not an issue when it comes to sports, and programs to make same-sex attracted people feel more accepted in sports could be laudable. However, with the addition of “gender identity,” Egale was also championing the inclusion of men who self-identify as women into women’s sports.
The report included revenues of $2,112,752 for 2016, up from $1,801,984 in 2015. Salaries and benefits made up 30% of the organization’s expenses that year.
Next year’s 2017 Annual Report celebrated Bill C-16, which added “gender identity or expression” to the Canadian Human Rights Act, noting that Egale played a key role in passing the bill.
The report also includes a section on Egale’s Workplace Inclusion training, which “helped organizations evaluate their existing practices and enhance their approach to inclusion through interactive learning and systems-change.” More than 1,300 people from over 15 organizations participated in the training that year.
2017 was another financially healthy year for Egale, with reported revenues of $2,862,817, with 54.2% of its expenses going to salaries and benefits. Some of the top donors who gave the organization more than $100,000 that year included Heritage Canada and the Ontario Ministry of Education.
Egale continued to busy itself in schools and workplaces in 2018. The 2018 Annual Report notes that the Safer and Accepting Schools Program had provided “inclusivity training” for more than 10,000 educators over the three previous years. In 2018 alone, the organization’s Inclusive Workplaces Training worked with 23 organizations to reach more than 2,200 people in post-secondary institutions, the civil service, unions, professional associations, and more.
Egale reported 2018 revenues of $3,704,557 and 54.2% of expenses as salaries and benefits. The Ontario Ministry of Education, the Ontario Ministry of Children and Youth Services, and TD Bank Group were among its top donors that year.
In May 2018, Egale held its IDENTITY Gala where Prime Minister Trudeau was presented with the Egale Leadership Award for his “significant contributions towards advancing LGBTQI2S equality for Canadians.” The award was presented to Trudeau by TD Bank's chief executive officer Bharat Masrani.
Helen Kennedy (left), Justin Trudeau (middle) and Bharat Masrani (right). Photo credit: Egale.
Throughout 2019, Egale continued to set its sights on sports. According to its 2019 Annual Report, it engaged with community partners across Canada in order to bring more “LGBTQI2S inclusion to the world of sports and athletics.” It was a member of the official Pride events of The Raptors, The Maple Leafs, and The Blue Jays.
Additionally, following a World Health Organization report that found insufficient physical activity among adolescents, Egale made recommendations to the Government of Canada regarding “LGBTQI2S sports inclusion.” The organization probably didn’t care to take into account the impact on girls of having to compete against boys who self-identify as girls.
Egale also wrote “an open letter opposing the ruling by the Court of Arbitration for Sport after Caster Semenya was barred from competing due to high levels of testosterone.” This is a lie—Semenya was not banned from the women’s category for high levels of testosterone but for being biologically male.
In 2019, Egale exceeded $4 million in revenue, spending 55% of that on salaries and benefits. Some of its highest donors that year included several federal government departments.
It should come as no surprise, then, that in January 2020 Egale was put in charge of updating the federal government’s “National 2SLGBTQI Action Plan.” These updates were developed from community input gathered at the 2018 IDENTITY Conference where Trudeau was presented with his award.
Like every other organization, Egale was impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic for the rest of 2020, but it quickly adapted its operations. According to the 2020 Annual Report, “The Egale team jumped straight into action putting together resources for the community and our allies.” This included “tips for youth stuck in quarantine with homophobic or transphobic family members.” The organization also shifted to providing digital workplace inclusion workshops and Safer Schools webinars.
The pandemic caused Egale’s revenue to take a hit, but it still pulled in a total of $2,833,582. That year, 75% of the organization’s expenses went to salaries and benefits.
There was no stopping the gravy train. The Spotlight of Egale’s 2021 Annual Report was its second national survey on homophobia, transphobia, and biphobia in Canadian schools. The survey had more than 4,000 respondents from grades 8 through 12, with 39% identifying as 2SLGBTQ. The report outlined “recommendations for ministries of education, school districts and school boards, school administrators, teachers, educators, and other school staff, and students.”
That same year, Egale also published a research report titled “Queering Mental Health Supports in Canada” summarizing the findings of a national survey and public consultation on the impact of COVID-19 and the mental healthcare needs of “2SLGBTQI” people in Canada. The report did not mention the word “homosexual” or anything to do with “same-sex” attraction even once. Remember, this was an organization initially created mainly to fight for the rights of same-sex couples.
In terms of revenue, 2021 saw Egale nearly back up to pre-pandemic earnings at a total of $3,635,394, with 62% going to salaries and benefits.
Egale’s close relationship with the federal government only grew more intimate in 2022. The 2022 Annual Report tells us that the organization “headed to Parliament Hill to meet with government officials across federal departments, including closed-door meetings with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. The focus of the discussion was to “address enduring barriers for 2SLGBTQI employees in the federal workplace.”
Throughout 2022, Egale also continued its education and workplace training programs, delivering Inclusive Schools Workshops to 30 Ontario public and Catholic school boards and Inclusive Workplaces programs to 60 public and private organizations across Canada.
In terms of finances, Egale exceeded its pre-pandemic earnings in 2022 for a total revenue of $4,763,456, while 67% of its expenses went to salaries and benefits. Top donors for that year included a litany of federal government departments as well as the Ontario Ministry of Education.
As you can see, Egale has worked itself into a highly lucrative position as Trudeau’s go-to advisor when it comes to queer-related issues. All it took was transitioning from an organization that fought for the rights of same-sex attracted people to an organization completely captured by queer theory and trans ideology, with a special focus on youth.
The contradiction should be plain for anyone to see. Same-sex attracted people never denied our biology and arguments for our rights were based in reality. We were different, yes, and no we couldn’t procreate with one another, but we felt we still deserved the same protections as everyone else. A key part of the messaging was also that gay and lesbian people were not after anyone’s children.
With marriage equality won, Egale became superfluous, and that was a good thing. But Kennedy knew that a renewed focus on trans issues could bring in more money, and it did. Egale grew larger than ever, raking in ever-increasing revenues and steadily paying itself an increasing amount of that revenue in salaries and benefits.
Keep in mind, also, that most of its millions have come directly from the federal government and now, this heavily federally funded group is fighting parents on the provincial level who want to know what is going on with their children in school.
It’s high time for Egale to stop pushing its ideological agenda throughout Canada and for our tax dollars to stop helping its efforts. More and more parents are getting fed up with what’s happening in schools and more Canadians want gender ideology out of the workplace, sports, and other areas of our lives as well.
Egale needs to be made superfluous once again, this time because it chose the wrong fight in pursuit of profits.
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