‘We will not be intimidated’: Brilliant trans women and players hold rally after ‘bullying’ incident on Toronto court

For just two hours a week, the Dufferin Grove Park skating rink becomes a safe space for women and trans people to play drop-in shinny.

This allowed playing time means a lot to those coming out and is something they are not willing to let anyone take away from them.

Last Thursday night, this sense of security was compromised, says veteran player Nicole Da Rocha, when a man arrived at the rink and refused to leave the ice until the police were called. She also said this person confronted the players, placed a Canadian flag on the dugout and ignored their pleas to leave the ice, insisting that they were, in fact, discriminating against him. She also reportedly filmed the exchange and allegedly threatened to return the following week with a group of people, she said.

“It definitely seemed to be a provocation… Clearly this individual wanted to intimidate. He definitely knew what he wanted to do and what he wanted to say,” Da Rocha said.

“We didn’t want any of this. None of us asked for this and it is very unfortunate. “It ruined our night.”

Toronto police told CP24.com they attended the Dufferin Grove Park rink on January 25, shortly before 7:30 p.m., for reports of an “individual (who) insisted on his right to play and “He refused to leave.”

Const. Victor Kwong said this unidentified person was given “numerous opportunities to come off” the ice and was ultimately arrested for failing to come out when told to, which is contrary to the Trespass Law.

Kwong also noted that the police will respond immediately if they return tonight and cause trouble.

Da Rocha told CP24.com that this incident was very disturbing and even triggering for many of the women and trans people who had come out for their weekly shining moment, some of whom were not quite sure if they would return.

“It definitely took away that security that we were looking for. … We came there to relax and have fun and that was taken away from us at that moment,” she said.

“This is not acceptable behavior and will not be tolerated. … We will not be intimidated.”

Wanting to do something to counteract that negativity and show bright women and trans players that they can feel safe on the court at Dufferin Grove Park, Da Rocha decided to organize a rally as a show of support, solidarity and community strength before the women from this night. Brilliant trans time.

Titled “Let’s Make Shinny (Hockey) Safe Again: A Rally in Support of Women’s and Trans People’s Shinny Space,” the event will begin around 6:45 p.m. just outside the skating rink at Dufferin Grove Park. Supporters and sympathizers are welcome, organizers say.

“We want a change. We want this to stop. … The culture needs to change,” Da Rocha said, adding that he has experienced at least one incident like this each season.

“For some people, this is their social activity and their community. They don’t have many places they can go. … (This incident) is like an assault on our security.”

Da Rocha, who said he would like to see the city of Toronto do more to ensure diverse groups get the drama-free time they are entitled to, said he advised the local county. Alejandra Bravo as well as Mayor Olivia Chow of the situation, who told CP24.com that they denounce what happened.

“Women and gender diverse people want to spend time on the ice, which has historically been dominated by men. Time is allocated on the city’s ice rinks to ensure that women and gender diverse people have time to play,” Bravo said in a written statement.

“Everyone should feel safe participating in community recreational activities and it is unfortunate that conflicts occur. “In Davenport I will meet with brilliant players to discuss how we can move forward in a positive way.”

A representative from Chow’s office said the mayor “condemns any discriminatory behavior towards women, trans and non-binary hockey players on Toronto rinks, period.”

“(She) believes in creating a city where everyone belongs,” Arianne Robinson wrote.

In a statement provided to CP24.com, City of Toronto spokesperson Nitish Bissonauth confirmed that the city is aware of the incident, is taking it “very seriously” and is “investigating the matter.”

“The City of Toronto is committed to promoting a safe, welcoming, positive and inclusive environment where people are valued and respected. “Staff, volunteers, participants and users of parks and facilities are expected to be considerate and respect people and their rights,” she said.
“Harassment of any kind is not tolerated or tolerated on City of Toronto facilities. The city’s code of conduct, which outlines expectations for safe and respectful conduct at recreational facilities, is posted at rinks throughout the city and all participants are expected to abide by the code of conduct.”

In response to previous similar incidents, the City of Toronto has stepped up monitoring of exclusive skating times for various groups and installed large banners at rinks offering women/trans-only times on ice.

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