The ArQuives Digital Exhibitions

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Susan Gapka Oral History, Part 2 (2016)


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Dublin Core


Susan Gapka Oral History, Part 2 (2016)


trans activism; oral history; Ontario 1990s; Ontario 2000s; gender confirming surgery; OHIP; health care


Second oral history with Susan Gapka, one of 7 activists involved in fighting Ontario's delisting of gender confirming surgeries from the province's public health plan in 1998. Conducted in Spring/Summer 2016 as part of the LGBTQ Oral History Digital Collaboratory (Elspeth Brown, PI)

Susan Gapka begins by talking about the generational issues existing within LGBTQ organizations, as patterns of trans exclusion are passed down through time. She is critical of trans-exclusionary practices and ideas within feminist and LGBTQ+ activism, which continue to harm trans people in the present. 

This exclusionary context originally framed the formation of the Trans Lobby Group, as it was necessary for trans people to organize in favour of their own rights. She speaks of the formation of this group in June 2001. By 2000 she had amassed some experience in the political sector, so this aided her transition into an activist role. Members of the Group would meet with politicians and lobby in favour of trans rights in Ontario. Susan describes how Martine Stonehouse eventually joined the Group as she had a court case against the Province at this time.  

Susan expresses her initial excitement at the victory of the Liberal party in the 2003 provincial election; however, she soon became disappointed by the further cuts to social assistance and the inaction on trans issues. She mentions the role of LGBTOUT in organizing a rally in favour of the delisting of GCS in 2003, and she expresses her appreciation for partnerships with the student movement.

Susan describes the procedures of the court case, at which she and others like Rupert Raj testified as well. During these testimonials she talked about the efforts to delist GCS, stemming from the great need facing transgender Ontarians who had been left without access to these procedures. She recalls this case being resolved November 28th, 2006, and while some of the claimants were dismissed, some others like Martine Stonehouse were successful in their court case and were compensated for some of their damages. Susan criticizes how the courts deemed those who weren’t out as trans before the delisting ‘not trans enough’ and therefore were dismissed from the case. She speaks of the need of transgender people to humanize themselves to a hostile and unwelcoming audience who is often unaware of the particularities of transgender lives.

Susan speaks of the diversifying of trans rights organizing after GCS was relisted, especially in issues like immigration, housing, refugees, and the penitentiary system. Nonetheless, she still emphasizes the importance of organizing around trans healthcare, as well as the social determinants of health.

Susan Gapka Oral History, #2 of 2 (2016) from Canadian Lesbian + Gay Archives on Vimeo.


LGBTQ Oral History Digital Collaboratory




PI: Elspeth Brown
Interviewer: NM
Interviewee: Susan Gapka








Province of Ontario. 1998-2008.

Oral History Item Type Metadata




Susan Gapka


Toronto, Ontario

Original Format





LGBTQ Oral History Digital Collaboratory, “Susan Gapka Oral History, Part 2 (2016),” The ArQuives Digital Exhibitions, accessed November 24, 2020,