Montréal Contre-information
Montréal Contre-information
Montréal Contre-information

Female Keep Separate: Prisons, Gender, and the Violence of Inclusion

 Comments Off on Female Keep Separate: Prisons, Gender, and the Violence of Inclusion
Dec 052023

Anonymous submission to North Shore Counter-Info

First, a warning: This text is written by and for queers and their friends. It is meant as part of a conversation around inclusion and identity where the validity of queer people isn’t in question. Anyone using this text to contribute to homo- or transphobia is a fucking goof.


When finally the cell door closes, when the jangling keys recede, you’ve arrived as far as you’re going that day. Then you can exhale alone with your mattress and be in your own body again, your body no longer a problem to be solved or a question to be answered. Just your own familiar weight under the blanket, where you can just shake and shake and try to sleep and get ready for whatever happens next.

I’ve done time in both men and women’s prisons, and from this I’ve learned a lot of things about the world we live in. About gender and how the state perceives it, about how gender is a form of control. Here in the territory called Canada, the state changed its rules about how its institutions engage with gender a few years ago by listing “gender identity” as a charter-protected category, like race or sex, in Bill C-16i. This meant that all the arms of the state have been required to figure out what it means to respect self-identification around gender.

In the stark, violent world of prison, the weakness of the liberal framework of gender is very clear. Canadian society officially approaches difference positively, through inclusion of diverse identities based on self-identification. This is in many ways the product of struggle, but we also have to be able to critique it to continue working towards a world without prison and the violence of gender. We will get into this more in a minute, but adopting the state’s purely positive understanding of gender identity can lead us to oversimplify our understanding of (hetero-)sexism and end up defending the state’s projects from reactionaries when we should be attacking them on our own terms.ii

Getting Identified

Prison is one of those rare remaining spaces where the state is openly involved in categorizing people by gender and exposing them to differentiated treatment on that basis. When I lay on that shitty mattress, I was in a cell in the seg unit of the women’s section of my local jail after having been identified as trans. I had been grilled about my gender and sexuality for about two hours until I was in tears, which felt horrible since I normally try to not show much to the guards.

On a human level, I don’t think their actions were at all malicious. The process was new, most of them hadn’t dealt with it before, and they probably don’t know any trans people. And a lot of it wasn’t the official questions – when the guard behind the desk paused to type something, one of the ones off to the side would chime in with curiosity, “So you won’t identify as anything, but do you like men or women? You gotta make up your mind.” Then the desk guard would continue, “So if you’re on suicide watch and we’ve taken your clothes away, who do you want to be watching you on camera, a male or a female?”

How do you identify. Identify yourself. There are two metal detectors leading to two different incarcerations, you need to identify yourself so we know which to use.

The pressure to identify had started just before dawn that day, not long after our door got kicked down and the flashbangs went off. I was zip tied naked under a sheet by a masked and armoured cop carrying an assault rifle, then a more normally dressed cop came in. He told me some charges, and then asked if I wanted a male or female cop to watch me get dressed. I said I didn’t care. He went and got a female cop and then cut the zip ties off. I sifted through my clothes for something both femmy and warm, then ignored their calls to hurry as I slapped on some makeup.

In the police station, I kept my face blank as the detective showed me pictures and documents and asked me questions. When the time came to get transferred to court, the court officers asked who should pat me down, a male or a female. I said I didn’t care. They said I had to answer. I said whoever wanted to could, I couldn’t stop them. They decided to have the male officer grope my bottom half and the female my top.

After court, I was loaded into a transport van, a single-prisoner box, classified as FKS, “Female Keep Separate”. A bunch of men were in the other boxes, and one of them started joking, calling me his girlfriend. We got moved one after the other into the men’s section of the jail, put in cells beside each other, and the joking continued. I nervously played along. I’ve been in men’s prison before, I sometimes got identified as gay there, but I looked pretty different at that time. The guards saw what was happening and pulled me out after a few minutes. They asked me where I wanted to be. I asked what my options were and they said probably men’s seg or women’s seg. The other prisoners were still talking about me. I said women’s. It was the first affirmation in answer to a question I’d given that day.

Constructing and affirming an identity, on instagram like in the interrogation room, is a way to get us talking. The prison has to be inclusive of gender diversity, and to be included is to be invited to participate: “Where do you want to be?” Should I be happy to be included in a prison, affirmed as a trans person, whatever that means? Of course I’m glad I didn’t experience more violence, but does this actually represent a win for those who have demanded inclusion?iii

It’s easy and nothing new to make critiques of inclusion, because there’s so much we’d rather ask for – I come from an anarchist tradition where that’s what the word “queer” means. It’s different to start from what inclusion feels like in our bodies though, how it shapes us. The ways that exclusion is violent are often obvious, but is there a violent dimension to inclusion too, something from which we rightly recoil?

A starting point then is to ask how the state sees gender. What does the word “woman” in the phrase “woman’s prison” mean? What are the consequences of being included as a woman in such a prison? How does the state understand “trans” and how does that understanding manifest itself through walls and bars?

Identity has two parts, a positive and a negative. The negative refers to oppression and violence, the positive to affirmation and belonging. I was first exposed to this distinction around blackness (I’m white) where “Black” refers at once to a history and ongoing experience of racist violence that produces certain people as Black, as well as an affirmation of a resilient identity, a shared struggle, and the culture that emerges from theseiv. A similar conversation is going on in my region around indigeneity and the role of lineage, culture, belonging, violence, racism, and struggle in forming those identities.

The discussion of trans inclusion and the state’s official discourse focuses heavily on the positive side, on affirmation — self-identification as a basis for membership in a recognized class of people (for me, women). But that positivity is just a veneer, which is especially obvious around prison where our positive affirmation, our self-identification, is precisely the thing that exposes us to identity’s negative side – the gendered violence of women’s prison.

Being Real

In the context of prison, women exist as an other. Prison is for men, the prisoner is male, even as the rate at which women are incarcerated continues to increase. In the context of patriarchy, to have a gender-blind prison would expose women to additional violence of a kind this society doesn’t officially endorse. So in a spirit of bourgeois equality, the prison system produces a separate institution for women, grouped together on the basis of an experience of sexual violence. When the state starts seeing its legitimacy threatened by queer and trans peoples’ experience of similar violence, they can be added to that existing category without having to fundamentally change what prison is.

Men and women are meaningful categories in as much as there is an experience of patriarchy distinct to each; transwoman may be a distinct identity in as much as it too has a specific relationship to the violence of patriarchyv. Prison then functions as a factory, sorting bodies, exposing them to differentiated treatment, and violently reproducing them as gendered beings in a world that requires such beings.

Separate is not equal. The way people are treated in women’s prison is not the same as in men’s prison. Some of this is to accommodate different needs – clothes with separate tops and bottoms instead of a jumpsuit, access to pads and tampons, more social workers, less emphasis on anger and more on trauma in programming. Some of it is clearly sexist and is the prison enforcing gender norms – strict dress codes and rules against touching, discouragement of exercise, low tolerance for conflict and fighting.

Beyond different treatment though, even things that are the same between men and women’s prisons don’t produce the same effect – standardized meal trays, visitation, surveillance and searches, the presence of both male and female guards. The two experiences of these identical features end up strikingly different. Lets quickly flesh out one example:

The men’s and women’s provincial prisons in Ontario get exactly the same food. In men’s prison, this is usually experienced as insufficient, in part because a big part of prisoner culture there is working out – it’s common for prisoners to be released fitter and more muscular than when they went in. In women’s prison, working out is strongly discouraged between prisoners and is sometimes even treated as a rule violation by guards. It’s normal for prisoners to quickly gain weight while having overall fitness erode due to enforced inactivity. Society as a whole treats fatness super differently for men and women, so this weight gain often comes along with shame and interacts with eating disorders or other mental health challenges.

The equal meals in a deeply unequal society produce a very negative impact overall on prisoners in women’s facilities – prison harms and controls as much by what it gives as what it takes away. In that way the women’s prison reproduces a specific vision of patriarchy through the forms of harm it causes and the toxic dynamics it encourages. We could make a similar analysis for how women’s experiences with sexual violence and objectification make the frequent strip searches more harmful, as well as the presence of male guards observing you at all times. Or how the intense restrictions around visits and phone calls interact with women prisoners having much less access to resources and outside support than do prisoners on the men’s side.

Continuing my story, I ended up in women’s seg at the end of that first day. Which is more or less the same as men’s seg, superficially at least. The cell is about the same size, the layout is the same, as are the strange rules about not being allowed shoes and the TVs out beyond your cell door having no volume. I did eventually end up on a regular women’s range with other prisoners the system considered women, but it took some time.

A lot of horrible things happen inside prisons. Most of it never emerges, never becomes visible to those outside. There are exceptions though, the most notable being death. Currently, provincial prisons in my area are restructuring themselves to reduce drug overdose deaths – this isn’t because they care about prisoners, but because having a body emerge as a corpse is unignorable. Therefore they’d prefer prisoners have no programs, no books, and no letters rather than risk fentanyl getting inside. Pregnancy is another thing that prison can’t hide.

In its business of sorting bodies, the prison considered my body to be a potential source of the violence women’s prison exists to avoid (or at least manage). In my early days of women’s seg, I was told I could only move out of there if I could prove that I couldn’t get an erection. I didn’t rise to the bait (no pun intended), so I don’t know what “proving” that would have entailed. But there are other ways that prison tries to satisfy itself that you aren’t a threat – they look at whether you’re taking hormones and what the doses are, they look at how you present inside and on road, at what you fight them for (“How many times will you beg at the window of your seg cell for a razor?”). They also assess how other prisoners react to you.

At one point, a sergeant came and told me I had ten minutes to get ready, I was going to visit a range. I resisted, saying I hadn’t been given a razor yet, so they brought me one but didn’t budge on the ten minutes. Fortunately I’d been in for a month by then and there were people sending me money, so I had already been able to get some makeup off canteen. So I rushed shaving with the shitty razor and dumped foundation over all the cuts before being marched over and deposited on a range with thirty other prisoners.

I’ve never experienced anything quite like walking on to a new range for the first time. The only thing that changes in prison from day to day is the people, so everyone scrutinizes each other, and new people especially are curiosities. You need to make yourself uninteresting, but I was clearly brought there to be a subject of conversation.

I was only on the range a few minutes for my “visit”. Some people talked to me, everyone looked, and then I was pulled off again. It was deeply awkward and embarrassing. I passed the test, which was later explained to me as being about the sound of my voice, if I tucked, how I looked and moved. I’m pretty small and I was told that helped too. The prisoners who the guards talked with agreed that I was “real”, and I was moved on to the range that night.

I’ve heard a lot of stories about “fake” transwomen. This might mean transwomen who didn’t pass, but usually meant those who were considered not to be making an effort to. I heard my fellow prisoners describe being assaulted or propositioned by transwomen while inside. I have no reason not to believe their experiences – we spent months together and got to know each other pretty well. A number of the people who told me these things were also the ones most welcoming to me personally. It seemed that scorn for “fake” transwomen was directly proportionate to how strongly my fellow prisoners felt that the “real” ones should be included.

“Real” transwomen don’t fight, yell in masculine voices, do pushups, or hit on women; on the other hand, “fake” transwomen like to bully, force their voice high except when its convenient to intimidate, don’t want a feminine body, and their sexuality is that of a straight man. It feels gross to repeat this narrative, which echos the worst anti-trans propaganda. I do believe though that in the context of prison, it was also a way that people who I know don’t hate transwomen were trying to keep each other safe.

The distinction between “real” and “fake” is even more garbage than gender itself, but I want to own the way I ended up playing into it. I was incarcerated three times over the course of a year and a half, and during that time I moved from femmy non-binary to trying my best to pass as a woman. In some ways this process was very fulfilling and is maybe what I would have done anyway. In other ways, a big part of my motivation was to not spend months and months in solitary confinement. I still understand my gender identity as being essentially coerced and I still try hard to pass, even though it’s been almost a year since I last heard a cell door slam shut.

However, I don’t think the problem is one of individual attitudes – not mine, not my fellow prisoners’, not even the guards’. I think the liberal understanding of gender as being purely positive is false and harmful, and I see this especially clearly in the prison system’s adoption of gender self-identification. I intend to dig into this in more detail, but I’ll have to circle back to it since first I’d like to tell a story I heard while I was inside.

Identity as Access

The state has a rule where it has to provide meals appropriate to religious diets, and the most complicated one is Kosher, since it’s not just a question of replacing one thing with something else. So Ontario prisons contract out for kosher meals, and they typically end up being of much higher quality than the standard fare. This means that prisoners are constantly trying to convince the institution they are Jewish in order to access the better food. The prisons are thus in the role of policing Jewish identity and throw up all sorts of blocks to people who are actually trying to meet religious needs.

I heard recently that a range in the adjacent men’s prison tried to solve that problem once and for all by bringing a human rights challenge in court about access to kosher meals. They argued that the dietary rules followed by Jewish people are also laid out in scripture honoured by other religions, so all devout people of the book should have access to food compliant with those rules. Their challenge was successful, and suddenly hundreds of prisoners were exercising their new-found right to kosher food. This caused the supply of kosher meals to collapse (or at least the budget the prison system had for them) and resulted in most Jewish prisoners being told to take the vegan diet, since kosher meals were scarce.

I have no idea if that story is true. I can’t find any record of it in google. But I’ve witnessed, both as a prisoner and as a person in solidarity, several moments where access to kosher food became a flashpoint for prisoner struggle in Canada, as a stand-in for better food for all. Even if this story is a fable, it highlights some dynamics of how change on the basis of identity occurs.

The prison system was forced to except an expanded definition of a recognized class of people and, because of this, to provide the accommodations associated with that class to many more prisoners. Both the system and the prisoners understood these accommodations as privileges, and obtaining them represented an improvement in conditions for many prisoners, along with an increased financial obligation for the institutions. The prison then transferred the burden onto another group of prisoners (in this case, Jewish prisoners who are observant on road) while moving to restrict access to the accommodation/privilege on a different basis, rather than challenging anyone’s identity.

You can probably guess where I’m going with this, but I’ll lay it out. The system is required to expand its policing of gender to accommodate self-identification, resulting in a greatly increased number of people who were assigned male at birth landing in women’s prisonvi. It also creates an easy pathway for anyone to move between men’s and women’ prison. The conditions in the two facilities are different, as I described above, and the basis of that difference is to reduce or manage the violence faced by people the system sees as women.

The violence in men’s prison, in Ontario like many other places, can be intense, and many people have reason to flee it, not just transwomen. The men’s prison system attempts to accommodate this need (because hospital visits, like corpses and babies, are products the prison has a harder time hiding) through Protective Custody (PC), which is basically the same as General Population (GP) except everyone there didn’t feel safe on a regular rangevii. Typically, a lot of queers end up in PC, but it is also where people accused of sex crimes or violence against children go, as well as people with too much conflict, who are in the wrong gang, who have a bad reputation, who were in law enforcement… Admission to PC is voluntary, prisoners just have to ask, but once you are in PC you can’t usually switch back. Over time, the result is that the numbers of prisoners in PC and GP get closer together, as do their levels of violence.

So where do people go who then need to escape the violence of PC? There has been an expansion in recent years of new forms of segregationviii. More and more queers were finding themselves doing all their time in seg. Ontario prisons are already overcrowded and this makes that worse, since these seg units often can’t be populated as densely and the prison system wants space there to use at its discretion. Trans people in particular usually end up being in a cell alone, instead of two or three to a cell, as is standard for others.

Being able to move trans people to a different institution where they be put on a regular range is thus partly a response to overcrowding. It also means that identifying as trans can give prisoners who may not have identified as trans otherwise an additional option to escape the choice between violence and isolation. I don’t think very many people do this wholly cynically – for many, it seems more similar to my process of moving from non-binary towards a way of presenting that more neatly fits the prison’s (as well as the broader society’s) understanding of a “real” (trans)woman. Add into this that prison violence disproportionately falls on those whose mental health makes them unable to conform to the rigid social environment, which is in turn a response to overcrowding and incarceration itself.ix

The pressure to identify your gender to the prison starts to resemble more and more the pressure to identify yourself to a cop who’s arresting you. It is an invitation to participate in having the process of controlling your body move smoothly, causing you the least physical harm. I remember myself crying in the intake room because it was no longer that I was refusing to tell them which gender boxes to tick, but that I just didn’t have the right kind of answers. In the end, I came up with an answer that got me what I needed at the end of that very long day – a safe place to sleepx.

Some people do identify as trans cynically, more like those prisoners fighting to be identified as observant people of the book so as to access the better kosher meals. This seems to be a very small minority. Regardless, women’s prison comes to operate as a kind of “super PC” for the prison system as a whole.

Always Against Prison

I spent a lot of time talking about this with other prisoners, both cis and trans. Maybe it’s not a problem that women’s prison is also the super PC. Coercion and violence is a part of identity anyway, so maybe its just up to the culture among prisoners in women’s prison to accommodate this shift. That is the liberal ideal no? that enlightened rulers determine peoples’ rights and then our freedom is limited only by the requirement to respect those rights? because oppression is just individual behaviour, yeah? So thank goodness the prison system put up copies of the GenderBread Person ™ poster on all the ranges in the women’s prison, so prisoners can educate themselves and keep the space safexi. I’m not joking, it’s right there next to the obligatory printout of our rights, a dozen pages behind a plastic panel whose characters are so small as to be illegible.

Everyone who cares about trans inclusion as a project, who struggled in the campaigns that were recuperated by the state and regurgitated as federal Bill C-16 should take an honest look at how their project has been taken up by the prison system. Seeing it in this grotesque form should challenge our analysis of gender and inclusion to become richer and more nuanced. Because self-identification as a basis for inclusion in prison is unsustainable. When there is an anti-trans backlash on a legislative level, you can be sure there will be no shortage of horror stories from prison to fuel the outrage.

This is not because some transwomen are “fake” and it is not because some transwomen reproduced predatory behaviour of a kind that ciswomen prisoners do too. It is obviously wrong to hold a whole group of people responsible for the fucked up things some individuals in that group do. The backlash will come because stapling a positive understanding of gender identity onto the prison system is totally inadequate.

It feels important to me that there be a critique of Bill C-16 and how it has been implemented that comes from queers and from people who carry a liberatory project — not just from opportunists who hate trans people, like Jordan Peterson. I don’t see the state as an agent of positive social change, but even those of you who do should ask yourself if we really have nothing to critique in C-16, as if Trudeau just got it perfect on his first try.

For those outside of Canada, perhaps seeing how liberal trans inclusion has played out here can be useful for avoiding some of the pitfalls that we have run into. It’s a subject for another day, but the starkness of prison might mean that analyzing how trans inclusion has played out there could reveal certain weaknesses with self-identification as the basis of gender in other spaces too.

There are a few ways the prison system might react to these contradictions, but first a quick story. There were a couple of queer guards I interacted with in the women’s prison. One was a transwoman who, while strip searching me, said “We’ve been making huge gains these last few years, things are getting better.” But the one I interacted with most regularly worked on my range and they were pretty friendly towards me. One day, they brutalized one of my friends by emptying a can of pepper spray into her eyes from an inch away while another guard held her down. We gave them a mean nickname based on the incident, and they complained to management to make us stop “bullying” them. Later they got top surgery and enthusiastically told me about it while I was standing in line for meds, and I regret that I ended up congratulating them.

The first way the system might react is by doubling down on improving its project of inclusion, fine tuning their trans policies and working out the kinks in implementation. I hope stories like this one can help convince us that their efforts in this direction have nothing to do with meeting out needs. I don’t care about the gender identity of the guard brutalizing me just like their accommodation for my gender identity didn’t make me any more freexii.

Alternatively, the prison system might react by falling back on its origins and applying a model of control through separation. There is a lot of talk of queer-specific units, or possibly even a separate facility. Gender queer people will thus exist in a status not midway between the men and women’s prisons, but between the regular and psychiatric prisons, which are already the system’s way of managing forms of deviance that we can’t be blamed for. We should oppose this as we do all expansions of the prison system.

As an anarchist, I am of course against all prison and I’m not going to offer any policy suggestion. I’m writing shortly after the murder of George Floyd by the Minneapolis police and the massive rebellion that followed, in a moment when critiques of the police and prison have spread in a way I never thought I would see. This motivated me to actually finish this text instead of just carrying these experiences around inside, because I think feminist and queer spaces could do more to build hostility to cops and prisons in their own way. I live for the day when all those whose lives are impacted by prison will gather together to destroy them, turn them over to the pigeons and rain. We will plant the ruins with fruit trees and have a bonfire of all the prisoner and guard uniforms. I know the smoke will carry away some of the gendered nightmare we are all living both inside and outside the walls.



i) Here’s bill C-16’s summary as it’s laid out in the bill: “This enactment amends the Canadian Human Rights Act to add gender identity and gender expression to the list of prohibited grounds of discrimination. The enactment also amends the Criminal Code to extend the protection against hate propaganda set out in that Act to any section of the public that is distinguished by gender identity or expression and to clearly set out that evidence that an offence was motivated by bias, prejudice or hate based on gender identity or expression constitutes an aggravating circumstance that a court must take into consideration when it imposes a sentence.”

ii My experience isn’t everyone’s, I can’t speak for all trans experiences. A few notes about me to help contextualize:

-I’m white, and so don’t face the same level of criminalization in my daily life or the same level of hostility within the prison system. Black and Indigenous trans prisoners I interacted with had often experienced more violence and refusal from the prison system around their identity than I did, which just makes sense considering they also experience more violence and exclusion on the street.

-I’ve only ever been inside for anarchist activity, so that’s a big difference in experience from basically everyone I ever met inside, and I get far more outside support. I’ve gone in five separate times that have totaled about year, which is in some ways long, but compared to a lot of people it’s really not. –

-Also, transmen are in quite a different position than what I describe in this text – the transmen I talked to were forced to choose between stopping taking testosterone and staying in seg, so the inclusion question is not the same for them.

-I intend this text just as a starting point and hope others will add to it. This text is not signed, even though I know it’s not very anonymous. If you want to get in touch with feedback, you can reach me at justsomerabbit at riseup dot net

iii I don’t blame the prisoners for my bad experiences as much as I do the dehumanizing institution that puts all difference under such intense pressure.

iv Beyond the identity element, I wouldn’t have the analysis of prison I do without the writings and example of Black radicals. Reading Assata Shakur, George Jackson, and Kuwasi Balagoon in men’s prison and discussing it with other prisoners was pretty formative for me.

v Although I understand why this framing exists, insisting that “transwomen are women” is too simple. Most of us grew up with male privilege and don’t understand what it means to be produced as a women from birth; as well, the exclusion and violence transwomen face in society isn’t the same as what ciswomen face, and no one would claim ciswomen understand it simply because “we’re all women”. We don’t need to argue if one form of violence is worse than the other, it’s that they are different. Difference doesn’t mean that inclusion shouldn’t occur (this is not an argument in favour of having to hold your pee until you get home). It’s an argument against letting the necessity of inclusion, because of similar needs for safety in the world as it is, lead us to an idea of gender that has been reduced to its positive dimension. Similarly, there’s a difference between identifying as something and being identified as that – whether or not the two of those coincide for a given person will also lead to a different experience of violence. Problematizing categories like man/woman (or cis/trans) is useful, but I don’t want us to flatten things out and actually end up with less ability to talk about our different experiences of systemic violence.

vi There have been occasional transwomen in women’s facilities since at least the 80s, but the majority of transwomen were in men’s prisons.

vii I know all the classifications can be a bit confusing if you haven’t done time before, so I want to explain here. PC and GP are both very similar in terms of how your time is structured – same schedule, same level of crowding, same (lack of) access to programs. It is not segregation, you’re still with lots of other people and sharing a cell.

viii This is also partly in response to Canadian court rulings that have limited the prison system’s ability to use solitary confinement as a punishment

ix To be clear, women’s prison isn’t some kind of safe space for queers. For instance, I saw situations where AFAB queers got passed around by tough cis women who were straight on road. The queer folks thought at first they were in some sort of gay summer camp, but they eventually realized they were in situations it wouldn’t be easy to leave or change.

x This pressure on prisoners’ gender identity isn’t just a trans issue. I’ve seen the ways that men in men’s prison experience pressure to perform hypermasculinity, as well as how women’s prison reproduces people as powerless victims by stripping prisoners of their options and supports and playing on trauma. Almost everyone’s gender is scrutinized and changed by prison. There is a distinct experience of this related to being trans though, and that’s what I’m most concerned with here.

xi The Genderbread Person is a teaching tool poster for explaining differences in gender, sex, and sexuality that is very much within a liberal understanding of gender:

xii It’s a weird irony that the prison guards’ union managed to get acceptance for the gender identity of their workers before the system got around to doing the same for prisoners. There have been transwomen guards in women’s prisons since well before Bill C-16


This text was submitted anonymously to North Shore. It is available as a pdf for printing and sharing

A Look Back at the “Defend Trans Youth” Counter-protest

 Comments Off on A Look Back at the “Defend Trans Youth” Counter-protest
Nov 292023

From P!nk Bloc

On October 21st, more than a thousand people acted on a call to counter-protest for the defence of trans youth’s rights and inclusive sex ed, called by a coalition of queer and antifascist groups including the Pink Bloc. This call was officially endorsed by more than fifty organisations, including unions, student associations, teacher associations, feminist groups, militant collectives, community sector organisations, and more.[1]

The goal of this action was to block the path of a demonstration organised by the transphobic, homophobic “Ensemble Pour Protéger Nos Enfants” (“Together to protect our children”) group in response to a canada-wide call from 1MillionMarchForChildren. The political agenda of this demonstration and its associated groups includes censorship of queer and trans subjects in schools, forcing educators to out trans youths to their parents, and the broad removal of trans healthcare for young folks. Through their statements, they claim to want to protect children, but even the most basic research will show you that these groups want to reinforce parental control on youth, and to give parents the ability to prevent their children from expressing themselves how they want, and from being themselves. 

This negates the right to youth self-determination, to freedom of expression, and to safety and security.

In the weeks leading up to their demonstration, political and personal infighting broke out between the groups and individuals involved in their organising,[2] creating division and confusion in their ranks which greatly diminished their turnout.

On our end, we saw a panoply of movements, groups, and individuals join our struggle and decide to form a common front against hate and exclusion!

By 9am on October 21st, we had occupied the space outside 600 Fullum Street with canopy tents, music,[3] and food. By 10am, we had already formed a large crowd despite the rain and the cold, and occupied the whole block on Fullum Sainte-Catherine to Notre-Dame. Across police lines, towards Notre-Dame, around a hundred anti-lgbtq demonstrators had gathered by around 11am. These demonstrators were dissapointed by their low turnout and were kept far away from their planned meeting point in front of 600 Fullum.

Although the struggle is never over, we can all collectively congratulate each other for our enormous success. We succeeded in completely dispersing the demonstrators and were able to declare total victory at 1:30pm, all while ensuring a secure and festive space at the heart of our counter-protest. Our mobilisation efforts in the community and union sectors were unprecedented for this type of action. This resulted in bonds of solidarity that will be crucial in the long term, and allowed us to develop strategies and resources for counter-protestors which will be indespensable in our future mobilisations. 

This was a beautiful show of solidarity by and towards our community, affirming that protecting children also means protecting trans children and teens by offering them a safe environment and defending their rights to self-determination.

Young trans folks are able to evaluate their situation, their identity, and their relationship with the world, and to make decisions to improve their lives, whether or not these decisions please their parents. We are the queer and trans youths of yesterday, who affirmed ourselves throughout the years, and who grew into adults who are comfortable in the bodies and identities that represent us. No one has the right to deprive today’s youth of this. 

Going forward we will continue to develop and form solidarity bonds, notably with struggles against islamophobia, in opposition to homonationalism and pinkwashing which use lgbtq+ rights as an excuse to justify attrocities,[4] and with mobilisations for Palestinian liberation. 

Congratulations to everyone who was there on the 21st, and thank you to all who supported us!

We hope to not have to organize another counter-protest for a long time, and we will see you in the streets in solidarity with Palestine!

1. List of organisations that endorsed our call to counter-protest

2. See for context

3. In light of comments we’ve received concerning the inclusion of Disney songs in our playlist, we would like to mention that in no way do we support Disney. Playing copyrighted music is a frequently used tactic to ensure livestreams are taken down by social media platforms, and Disney is known to be particularly strict in enforcing their copyrights. Livestreams are frequently used by far-right actors to doxx our comrades. We unequivocally support the BDS movement and calls to boycott Disney for their support of Israeli apartheid, and we will be sure to select different copyrighted music next time.

4. We will soon publish an article developing this idea further

Shining a Light on Shawn Beauvais MacDonald, the Neo-Nazi from NDG

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Nov 292023

From Montréal Antifasciste

Since 2017, Montréal Antifasciste has regularly mentioned a local neo-Nazi named Shawn Beauvais MacDonald in its publications. However, we have never taken the time to devote a full article to him. As he has clearly never questioned his beliefs in the face of negative attention and continues to drag his carcass—usually decorated with neo-Nazi symbols—through the streets of Montreal, we decided to correct this oversight. This is all the more important now that we’ve learned of his recent attempts to infiltrate Palestine solidarity demonstrations and other spaces that should be safe, inclusive, and in solidarity with the groups and people whose destruction this individual seeks. Let’s be perfectly clear, Beauvais MacDonald is stridently racist, misogynist, homophobic, transphobic and, of course, crassly antisemitic.

What follows is a portrait of one of the Montreal area’s most visible and unrepentant neo-Nazis, who, in recent years, has collaborated in one way or another with most of Québec’s white supremacist and neo-fascist projects. The purpose of this article is to demonstrate that Beauvais MacDonald is not a once lost sheep, now back on the fold, but that he is to this day a white supremacist militant, ideologically fanatical, hardened, and irreformable. We hope that his case will be widely publicized, so that this despicable individual can never feel comfortable anywhere in our city.

[Note: Some of the information in this article has already been published in recent years.

Warning: this article contains racist, misogynistic, homophobic, transphobic,
and antisemitic content


Shawn Beauvais MacDonald (SBM) first appeared on our radar in August 2017, in the wake of the white supremacist “Unite the Right” rally, in Charlottesville, Virginia, on August 11–12, 2017. He was quickly identified as one of the Québecers who made the trip to Virginia to take part in this North American alt-right mecca, along with, among others, Gabriel Sohier Chaput, alias “Zeiger” (sentenced in September 2023 to fifteen months in prison for fomenting hatred against Jews) and Vincent Bélanger Mercure. SBM appears briefly in the Vice News reporting devoted to participants at “Unite the Right,” where he is seen shaking hands with the infamous “crybaby Nazi” Christopher Cantwell. Recall that on the afternoon of August 12, after several hours of often-violent clashes between various supremacists (neo-Nazis. KKK, etc.) and anti-racists/anti-fascists, James Alex Fields, a neo-Nazi associated with Vanguard America, drove his car into an anti-racist march, injuring numerous people and killing the militant Heather Heyer. This fateful event marked the beginning of the decline of the alt-right movement.

A subsequent analysis of the images captured during these events shows SBM at the torchlight march on August 11, chanting the anti-Semitic slogan “Jews Will Not Replace Us!” He was also spotted wearing a distinctive red baseball helmet in clashes the following day, during which, he later explained in an episode of the American alt-right podcast “Late Night Alt-Right,” he suffered an elbow injury.

Shawn Beauvais MacDonald (left) in Charlottesville, Virginia, August 11, 2017, with Gabriel Sohier Chaput (gray t-shirt), Vincent Bélanger Mercure (Ensemble t-shirt), and Christopher Cantwell (right).
Shawn Beauvais MacDonald at the white supremacist “Unite the Right” torchlight march, August 11, 2017, in Charlottesville, Virginia.
Shawn Beauvais MacDonald at the white supremacist “Unite the Right” torchlight march, August 11, 2017, in Charlottesville, Virginia.
Shawn Beauvais MacDonald at the white supremacist “Unite the Right” torchlight march, August 11, 2017, in Charlottesville, Virginia.
Shawn Beauvais MacDonald at the white supremacist “Unite the Right” torchlight march, August 11, 2017, in Charlottesville, Virginia.

SBM Never Misses an Outing…

We didn’t know it at the time, but we had crossed paths with him several times in the preceding months. Investigations into SBM after Charlottesville revealed that he had, in fact, been an active member of La Meute, the Islamophobic populist group formed some time earlier by veterans of the Canadian Armed Forces. For a time, it seems, he managed La Meute’s anglophone social media accounts. Notably, he was present for La Meute’s baptism by fire in Montréal on March 4, 2017 (the first in a series of Islamophobic demonstrations), which he attended with several other members of a small local alt-right group whose existence we were to discover only a little later (see below). On this occasion, he and a comrade found themselves briefly among the anti-racist counterdemonstrators. The two scumbags were encouraged to leave with a kick in the ass after having the bright idea to call the counterdemonstrators “race traitors.” He would later explain to his peers that his involvement with La Meute was primarily aimed at propagating his “race-based” philosophy and his ethnic (read: racist) nationalist vision.

Shawn Beauvais MacDonald at the La Meute protest in Montréal, March 4, 2017.

Shawn Beauvais MacDonald talks about his role in La Meute in the chat room of the local alt-right group in August 2017.

In 2017, he also developed close relations with the Soldiers of Odin Québec (SOO), the regional chapter of an anti-immigrant network founded by a neo-Nazi, and the neo-fascist organization Atalante Québec, befriending Raphaël Lévesque, the group’s leader. He trained with the other members of Atalante at their private boxing club, “La Phalange.” Here are just a few of dozens of examples of his involvement with these groups during this turbulent period:

  • On September 30, 2017, he was spotted again at a demonstration near the Saint-Bernard-de-Lacolle border crossing organized the anti-immigration organization Storm Alliance.
Shawn Beauvais MacDonald, with the Atalante/Soldiers of Odin contingent, in Québec City, November 25, 2017.
Shawn Beauvais MacDonald, with the Atalante/Soldiers of Odin contingent, in Québec City, November 25, 2017.

In 2018 and 2019, SBM took part in various Atalante visibility actions in Montréal, where the neo-fascist group unsuccessfully attempted to gain a foothold.

  • In December 2018, he was identified in our “Unmasking Atalante” article as a member of the Montreal chapter.
  • On September 30, 2019, he distributed sandwiches in Montreal’s Quartier Latin and the Village. A few Atalante members posed in front of Berri Metro station and tried to intimidate customers at the L’Escalier bar, without much success.

In September 2019, SBM was identified, among others, in our article “Chasing Atalante: Where Do the Fascists Work?” where we revealed where he worked and studied. Thereafter, he seemed to distance himself from Atalante, possibly to avoid muddying the reputation of Raphaël Lévesque, who was then preparing for his trial in the Vice Québec affair. Nonetheless, he was part of the security detail that accompanied Lévesque to his court appearances.

Shawn Beauvais MacDonald takes part in Raphaël Lévesque’s security detail at the Palais de justice de Montréal, fall 2019.

It’s easy to imagine that SBM’s presence wasn’t unanimously welcomed in Atalante’s ranks, since he’s regarded in his own circles as a troublemaker whose rancorous presence alone often causes his comrades problems. Whatever the case, Lévesque’s trial didn’t go as planned (the assault at Québec City’s LvlOp bar cast a pall over the proceedings), and the Atalante project lost steam and fell silent at some point during the pandemic.

Alt-Right Montréal

In winter 2018, a leak from the “Montreal Storm” chat room, a local neo-Nazi alt-right group (ARM), led to the public exposure of the identity of Gabriel Sohier Chaput, alias “Zeiger” and several other members of the group, including SBM, who took part under the pseudonyms “Bubonic” and, later, “FriendlyFash.”

An analysis of these discussions quickly revealed that SBM was at the heart of the group and was one of its most active militants. During this period, he was probably involved in neo-Nazi postering campaigns, in particular pasting up posters produced by “Dark Foreigner,” Patrick Gordon Macdonald, a prolific graphic designer and propagandist now charged with terrorist activity by the Canadian justice system. The “Dark Foreigner” propaganda is notably associated with the reissue of the book Siege, by James Mason, considered the bible of contemporary neo-Nazi movements, and the activity of the Atomwaffen Division network, now designated a terrorist organization in Canada and a number of other countries.

One of the neo-Nazi-inspired stickers that appeared in Montréal when members of the Alt-Right Montreal group were going out at night. The image is by “Dark Foreigner.”

SBM also promotes the identitarian group ID Canada (born of the same alt-right networks and modelled on the European example of Generation Identity and similar organizations), designed by racist activists as a more “socially acceptable” vehicle for promoting white nationalism in Canada. ID Canada stickers appear notably in the Notre-Dame-de-Grâce district, where SBM lives.

Under cover of the false irony that characterized extremist alt-right forums and message boards, SBM made absolutely unabashed and aggressive racist, antisemitic, and misogynist comments on the “Montreal Storm” Discord server. As if to confirm his involvement in this milieu, SBM turned up, on July 1, 2017, in Old Montreal, with other members of the Alt-Right Montreal group, including the alleged leader, Athan Zafirov, alias “Date,” to harangue an anti-colonialist demonstration.

A sample of Shawn Beauvais Macdonald’s racist and misogynist comments in the “Montreal Storm” chat room.
Shawn Beauvais MacDonald with his Alt-Right Montreal buddies, in Old Montréal, July 1, 2017.

During this period, he posted on Facebook under his own name and, later, under the pseudonym “Hans Grosse,” a reference to a famous Lufftwaffe pilot (and a character in the video game Wolfenstein).

A sample of Shawn Beauvais Macdonald’s uplifting Facebook posts in 2017.

In spring 2018, following the publication of a series of articles in the Gazette about Gabriel Sohier Chaput and the Alt-Right Montreal group (articles based in large part on the investigative work of antifascist militants), an aggressive postering campaign was organized in the NDG district to make the community aware of the presence of SBM and his comrade Vincent Bélanger Mercure. The next day, SBM was seen frantically tearing down posters bearing his photo and personal information.

During the 2019 federal election, SBM served as bodyguard for independent candidate in LaSalle-Ville Émard-Verdun, Julien Côté Lussier, an Immigration Canada employee who leads a double life as a white nationalist ideologue (he’s a spokesman for ID Canada, among other things) and a leading light in the local alt-right scene, where he goes by the pseudonym “Passport.”

Shawn Beauvais MacDonald serves as the bodyguard of white nationalist candidate Julien Côté Lussier, in Verdun, October 19, 2019.

The Pandemic Years

At the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, SBM could be found on the Telegram platform, where he still operates under the pseudonym “FriendlyFash.” At this point, his profile caption is “Meine Ehre heißt Treue” [my honour is called loyalty], an SS motto. SBM is active in the chat room of the local white supremacist group White Lives Matter Québec (WLM). He and other members of this group showed up at an anti–health measures demonstration in Montreal on January 22, 2022.

Shawn Beauvais MacDonald at the anti–health measures demonstration on January 22, 2022, with other members of the White Lives Matter Québec group.

In March 2022, he turned up in the same chat room as another die-hard neo-Nazi, Sylvain Marcoux, discussing the hate speech trial of his former comrade Gabriel Sohier Chaput. He also promotes the “Active Club”» (AC), a direct descendent of the Rise Above Movement (RAM), explicitly affirming the need to develop some sort of militant neo-Nazi combat club in preparation for the coming race war. SBM had already expressed his support for RAM founder and AC spiritual father Robert Rundo. The Frontenac Active Club (the Québec section of the network) was born out of the WLM Québec discussion group. We know that the young Raphaël Dinucci, alias “Whitey,” who was undoubtedly directly influenced by SBM, is today the administrator of the Telegram channel WLM Québec and a leading activist at the Frontenac Active Club.

Shawn Beauvais MacDonald debates neo-Nazi Sylvain Marcoux about his “old buddy” Gabriel Sohier Chaput.

We have no direct evidence of SBM’s involvement in the Frontenac AC project, but it’s reasonable to infer it, if only on the basis of his past publications. He is certainly a kind of “godfather” to that scene. Another hint of his involvement came on April 21, 2023, when Frontenac AC stickers appeared in Montreal’s Village neighbourhood on the eve of an anti-fascist event being held nearby. On the evening of the event, SBM had the crazy idea of showing up alone at the Yer Mad bar, an establishment well known for its far-left anti-fascist leanings, no doubt with the aim of intimidating the clientele. Instead, he was aggressively removed by antifascists who arrived shortly afterwards.

Frontenac Active Club stickers were stuck up in Montreal’s Village neighbourhood in April 2023, on the eve of an antifascist event two blocks away. We suspect Shawn Beauvais MacDonald was involved.


SBM has been seen regularly on the streets of Montreal in recent months, always wearing neo-Nazi symbols, including a totenkopf pin that he wears on the lapel of his coat collar. When he’s recognized, he usually reacts in an aggressive manner, taking advantage of his imposing physique, making hard eye contact, and generally behaving like a lunatic.

Shawn Beauvais MacDonald was the subject of this post on the Montréal Antifasciste Facebook page in February 2021.
This photo of Shawn Beauvais MacDonald was sent to us by a supporter on November 15, 2023, less than two weeks before this article was published.

Recently, SBM has been spotted at demonstrations organized in solidarity with the people of Gaza, who are being targeted by the latest ethnic cleansing operation carried out by the State of Israel. It’s important to note that he appears to be there alone, walking through the crowd without interacting with anyone, suggesting that he has no real contact with the pro-Palestine movement. It was against this backdrop that he posted a lengthy antisemitic diatribe on Instagram after the October 13 demonstration in downtown Montreal. In fact, during the week of November 20, he changed his Instagram account name from “FriendlyFash88” to “Awakened_amalekite” (a biblical reference to the enemies of the Israelites).

Shawn Beauvais MacDonald posted an antisemitic rant on his Instagram account on October 14, 2023, the day after a demonstration in solidarity with Palestine. Note that he took the time to edit his commentary to remove a racist and Arabophobic passage.
Shawn Beauvais MacDonald changed his Instagram handle in the week of November 20, about a week before the publication of this article.
Shawn Beauvais MacDonald has the handle « FriendlyFash » on Telegram to this day, which he decorated with a Nazi logo in the days preceding publication of this article.

He was seen again at the November 4 demonstration, and on that occasion was expelled by the demonstration’s security service at the instigation of anti-racist comrades. He was seen and confronted again on November 11, but then disappeared in the crowd. This is one of the motivations for producing this article: to communicate to the wider community and to the driving forces of the Palestine solidarity movement this neo-Nazi’s intention to infiltrate their ranks. It is out of the question that the movement’s adversaries be allowed to exploit the presence of this isolated bozo to demonize the entire movement. He must be immediately and systematically expelled whenever he attempts to infiltrate spaces of solidarity with Palestine.

Let’s be perfectly clear: Shawn Beauvais Macdonald was and is a white supremacist and a neo-Nazi. He can still be seen in public adorned with neo-Nazi symbols, so it would be completely unreasonable to believe that he’s reformed, and any claim to that effect should be rejected. There is no space for him in any inclusive space.

Let’s Increase the Pressure…

Since appearing on the radar of Montreal’s anti-fascist community, SBM has suffered a series of setbacks and inconveniences. First, he lost jobs when his participation in the Charlottesville protests was revealed. Posters exposing his activities were put up in his neighborhood. He was visited by antifascists at his home (2045 rue Elmhurst, Notre-Dame-de-Grâce). Then leaflets denouncing him were distributed at the Centre intégré de mécanique, de métallurgie et d’électricité (CIMME), where he was briefly enrolled in 2019.

Shawn Beauvais MacDonald was visited by antifascists at his home in 2018; the Nazi flag he used as a bathroom curtain was confiscated.
These flyers exposing Shawn Beauvais MacDonald were distributed at the Centre intégré de mécanique, de métallurgie et d’électricité (CIMME), where he was briefly enrolled in 2019.

SBM currently routinely trains at the Nautilus Plus in LaSalle (he used to frequent the Nautilus Plus downtown). Sympathizers regularly pass on information about him, particularly on the bus routes where he is regularly seen. Of course, we have no intention of leaving him alone. If you have any other useful information to share with us, particularly about Shawn Beauvais MacDonald’s current employment, please don’t hesitate to contact us at

Fascists out of our neighbourhoods; no quarter for fascists!

Report-back from the October 21st Counter-demonstration in Defense of Trans Youth

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Nov 272023

Anonymous submission to MTL Counter-info

Saturday, October 21 in Montreal saw a face-off between a shrinking coalition of religious conservative transphobes and a counter-protest in defense of trans youth. TL;DR: trans defenders won. 

Called as a Canada-wide day of action by “1 Million March for Children”, with the group “Ensemble pour protéger nos enfants” (hereafter EPPNE; “Together to protect our children”) leading the Montreal event, it was the follow-up to the clashes on September 20th in front of McGill University. That day, an unexpectedly large crowd, mostly composed of Muslim families, with children holding signs reading “I belong to my parents” and shouting transphobic and homophobic insults, confronted an underprepared counter-protest and succeeded in marching through downtown Montreal, leaving trans defenders and their queer and antifascist comrades shaken. 

EPPNE called their demonstration in front of 600 Fullum, the address of the Quebec Ministry of Education, to whom they address a series of demands concerning school curriculums that is but a pretext for seemingly limitless transphobia. We recommend checking out Montréal Antifasciste and P!nk bloc for more detailed perspectives on the developing political context, including the impact of war in the Middle East (it turns out the advocates of one genocide can be divided concerning another). This report-back will emphasize the tactical dimension of what we observed on the 21st.

The EPPNE protest was called for 11am, and the counter-protest was announced for 10, with the intention of occupying the area first. Predictably, it was barely past 8am when the dedication of a small group of early arrivals allowed us to claim the street in front of 600 Fullum and relegate the EPPNE organizers, who arrived at 8:15, to a patch of grass between the south side of the building and the bike path running alongside the highway. Dozens of police were already on site, and they cordoned off a segment of the roundabout at the bottom of Fullum with police tape to create a buffer zone between the two groups, informing counter-protesters that crossing the tape would be considered a criminal offense.

If we gathered in front of the offices housing the Ministry of Education, it was not as defenders of the education system, which, as a general rule, seeks to turn children of all genders and sexualities into docile subjects of settler-colonial capitalism, respecters of democratic authority, workers and consumers with the ability to ask questions but not too many. Rather, holding the space where the transphobes planned to be denies them the visibility they crave and demonstrates that we will stand in their way, wherever they may try to organize publicly.

Both sides arrived to a scene that had been covered in antifascist, pro-trans, and pro-Palestine graffiti the night before, with the ministry building, construction machinery and nearby walls bearing tags including “YOUTH LIBER(A)TION [&] TRANS LIBER(A)TION NOW!”, “Dykes for Palestine” and “Fuck transphobes”. Together with the rapid setup of five canopy tents directly in front of 600 Fullum, which would serve as a logistical base camp for the counter-protest and provide us occasional shelter from the rain, it could not have been more clear who controlled the space where the transphobes had intended to gather, or that our fight extends beyond the liberal defense of a tolerant social order.

Our numbers gradually then more quickly swelled as 10am approached. The arrival of a sound truck (a couple powerful speakers strapped to the bed of a pickup) helped to introduce a festive vibe. And newcomers were dispatched to one of two mobile units, color-coded pink and black (people with mobility restrictions or who just preferred to hang out around the base camp could do so).

One note concerning mass media cameras: a CTV News cameraman was spotted wandering the crowd in front of 600 Fullum, filming counter-protesters from close range. Guidelines published in the lead-up to the 21st had encouraged attendees to wear masks and watch out for mass media and livestreamers, but we’re not aware of planning around making sure journalists couldn’t freely explore our infrastructure, in areas where some people would be having private conversations or inevitably removing masks to eat or drink. Comrades took the initiative to confront the CTV crew and physically expel them after they refused a verbal request to leave. While banners and umbrellas can work well against media approaching our hard lines, we need to also be able to repel those who find their way into areas like those for welcoming newcomers. We think a team dedicated to this task is probably the best move going forward.

Around 9:30am, the pink unit moved north on Fullum to begin blocking the street at the top of the block, just south of Sainte-Catherine. They would hold this position, allowing new arrivals of our side to enter and denying entry to transphobes, for the remainder of the action. Because this intersection was the main access point for protesters who were arriving from Papineau metro or from street parking to the north, the pink unit blockade succeeded in turning away numerous anti-trans protesters, who left thinking the EPPNE protest had been cancelled or completely overwhelmed by the counter-protest.

Shortly after 11am, the black unit set off to try to make its way around the police lines protecting the anti-trans protest at the bottom of Fullum. After turning left on Ste-Catherine from Fullum, there was an altercation with a lone fascist wearing a t-shirt reading “Kill All Pedophiles”, who was knocked to the ground. About one-hundred-strong and protected by multiple side banners, the black unit moved two blocks west, then turned south on De Lorimier, before being blocked from turning east on René-Lévesque towards the EPPNE grouping by a line of riot police. For about 45 minutes, they held the intersection of De Lorimier and René-Lévesque, not able to advance closer to the transphobes, but blocking another possible access route from the metro to their gathering point, and blocking the way toward the Gay Village and downtown for any march (national 1MM4C organizers had called for marches at 1pm).

Outnumbered roughly tenfold under pouring rain, gradually being encircled by multiple groups of counter-demonstrators, and their march route to downtown blocked, the EPPNE crowd was visibly demoralized. Some vented their frustrations on their Facebook Lives, telling (and showing) viewers how much better organized our side was and reprimanding theirs for not showing up. One remarked on Whatsapp that their opponents were “only 0.33% of the population. But very smart and evil.” And we can only take that as a compliment.

Close to noon, the black unit met up with a group of reinforcements at the corner of Ste-Catherine and De Lorimier and set off again southward, with a plan. Upon reaching René-Lévesque, one contingent stopped and faced the line of riot police like before, forcing them to stay in place, while the rest of the group, about a hundred people, continued south, then cut east through the gap between two buildings. Despite these movements being slowed by some general confusion, the SPVM appeared completely on their heels for the first time that day, their plans for protecting the anti-trans protest at risk of breaking. Police vans sped around the corner, and a half-dozen riot cops moved in, shouting at the contingent to reverse course, as one made a show of loading his rubber-bullet gun and others brandished pepper spray. This intimidation succeeded in holding the crowd back for long enough that a number more riot cops and bike cops could arrive and form a proper line. Hopefully, these experiences with coordination in the streets will nourish our tactical imagination and help us prepare even better for next time.

The following map shows the final positions of the transphobes, counter-protesters and police:

Shortly thereafter, as the black unit regrouped on De Lorimier, word spread that EPPNE had called the dispersal of their protest, confirming their defeat by not even attempting to march and needing to instruct their attendees on safe routes out of the area.

There was so much going on in different places across the multiple city blocks spanned by the counter-protest on the 21st that it would be impossible to give a comprehensive account in one report-back, though we want to send a specific shout-out to everyone who ensured the delivery of food or served it and to everyone who held banners for hours on end.

While the logic of counter-protest can place us on the defensive, intuition tells us that we can move beyond a purely reactive posture — that we have something to gain — when we get organized on a basis of solidarity and put our faith in each other rather than media, law or the police.

Until next time,
– some anarchists

Devil’s Night Against Landlords

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Nov 172023

Anonymous submission to MTL Counter-info

Devil’s night is traditionally a time of mischief and subversive activity, striking fear into the forces of order. On this night, the weekend before Halloween, we took the form of mischievous creatures and decided to haunt the Upper Westmount mansion of the real estate boss Stephen Shiller. Stephen is one half of Shiller Lavy, and his son Brandon Shiller runs Hillpark Capital. These firms are responsible for renovicting and pricing out many tenants in the Montreal area in the past decade, putting hundreds of people out on the street.

The action was simple, any trickster could do it: we inserted a garden hose left outside into the mail slot of the front door and turned on the water, before disappearing into the night.

We summon others in the fight against Bill 31 to join the incantations of anti-landlord discourse with nocturnal rituals of anti-landlord action.

While we targeted Stephen Shiller for being an especially horrific landlord, we recognize authority must be washed away wherever it appears.

– some anarchist ghouls

Emergency Postering in Metros

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Nov 152023

Anonymous submission to MTL Counter-info

This morning, twenty metro stations were covered with posters across the city.

Canadian Tire Fire: Palestine Solidarity

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Nov 142023

From It’s Going Down

Excerpt from Canadian Tire Fire #65

Since Hamas’s October 7th attack, killing around 1,400 people and taking around 240 hostages, Israel has been carrying out a massive campaign of death and destruction on the Palestinian people through a brutal siege and military offensive. Thousands of Gazans have died, over 10,500 at last estimate, with thousands more estimated buried under the rubble of countless buildings collapsed by the bombings. Fuel has run out at many hospitals, worsening an already deadly crisis caused not only by the air and ground assault but also by the blocking of food, water, and fuel from entering the open-air prison.

The colonial violence of the Israeli state has intensified in the West Bank as well, where Israeli settlers have been given increasing access and encouragement to arm themselves. Between IDF and settler civilian attacks, at least 133 Palestinians in the West Bank have been killed. Israel recently deported Palestinians working in Israel to Gaza, where they will be under constant threat of death, but only after imprisoning, beating, and interrogating many of them. In the face of all this, Western states like the US and Canada have been standing by Israel, publicly mourning the deaths of Israeli soldiers, shying away from providing any meaningful international pressure for a ceasefire, and creating an environment generally hostile to solidarity with the Palestinian struggle.

Across Canada, anarchists and others have been organizing to support Palestine from afar. So much has been happening there’s no way we can cover it all, but we’ve put together a summary of some of the efforts that have taken place over the last few weeks, as well as some reflections on proposals for anarchist interventions.


On October 30, coordinated office occupations began of 17 Canadian MPs demanding that Canada call for a ceasefire.

In addition to office occupations, MPs have been targeted in other ways. On November 1st, the entrance to Melanie Joly’s MP office was drenched in red paint and had a banner hung on it. As well, the list of the names of the Palestinians killed by Israel’s ongoing genocide in Gaza (produced by Palestine’s Health ministry) was left in front of the door of the building.


Weekly marches have been happening in many cities in Canada. In Vancouver, protests have met most Saturdays at the Vancouver Art Gallery.

In Montreal, protests have been been happening downtown at least once a week as well, with emergency protests called a few times as well. These demonstrations have consistently brought out thousands of people.

A recent Montreal demonstration on November 4th was attended by an estimated 50,000 people and coincided with a symbolic blockade of the CBC/ Radio Canada building.

Weekly marches have been occurring in Toronto, with the latest on November 4 including a 5 hour sit-in in Toronto’s financial district going late into the night.


In Toronto, INKAS Armored, a defense contractor with tied to the IDF, was picketed:

Early on the morning of October 30th, a crowd descended on INKAS Armored, a Toronto-based defence contractor with ties to the Israeli Defence Forces. Responding to a call from Palestinian trade unions for workers around the world to shut down exports to the Israeli military, the protesters set up picket lines to block access to the facility.

In Vancouver on November 3rd, anti-Zionist Jews held an action where they blocked a major artery to the Port of Vancouver, calling for an end to business as usual in the face of the assault on Gaza.

Anarchist Analyses of Palestine Solidarity

A few proposals have emerged recently for how anarchists and radicals should engage in this moment of international solidarity with Palestine. Because we imagine our readers will come across them, we’d like to offer a few reflections.

An anonymous submission to North Shore Counter-info has called for anarchists to escalate their interventions in the current moment. The article speaks, in part, to a desire for a specifically anarchist response to the unfolding crisis, one in which it is easy to feel powerless, and where the way to respond from a specific politic is at times unclear.

Commentary published in Montreal Counter-Info offers a different suggestion: for anarchists and the radical left to “prioritize the voice(s) of the people concerned and acknowledging their complete leadership of the ongoing resistance movement…accept a secondary role: to sometimes stay silent, to listen, and to learn.” It also asserts: “it is in no way our role to emphasize “complexity” and bring “nuance” to the situation.”

We believe that an anarchist response to this situation requires careful reflection, and identification of both the specific analysis and skillsets that anarchists bring. A meaningful anarchist response requires political clarity, which in turn requires time spent understanding the issue and building political analysis together. It requires reflecting on our range of tactics and skills, and what these can offer to an international solidarity movement. It also requires an honest discussion of strategy, developed with our comrades or adapted from other contexts. We can use a lens of effectiveness, or of what tactics we wish to see generalized, what skills we may be able to help foster and spread, but the why matters. Whatever words we use to describe it, we should assess both the intentions and likely effects of our interventions. Are we aiming to spread a message of solidarity in a new but still symbolic way, have we identified a chokepoint that allows for a more material intervention in the flow of money, information, or equipment to Israel and those supporting it, or are we doing something else entirely?

We should remain critical of our desire to ‘escalate’ – does this stem from a belief that ‘escalated’ actions (one-off or sustained) are more effective than marches and rallies in this moment, do they feel more politically fulfilling (to us, or to a broader movement), does taking on more risk mean we care more? How does acting with urgency support or hinder our goals? There are myriad good reasons to escalate, and it is worth being clear about what those reasons are, and whether the tactics we choose align with those reasons.

While the submission to North Shore Counter-info may give some anarchists a much needed push to begin reflecting on how to engage more thoughtfully and consciously in this context, its lack of specificity makes its message ring hollow. While hope is a critical part of any struggle, the vision for anarchists to “share food, tell stories, dance and sing songs, bask in the warmth of the sun, and marvel at the deep night sky” feels out of touch while the Gaza sky, day and night, is filled with explosions. Living free in Canada is not a suitable anarchist intervention in the absence of a direct proposal to use that freedom to affect something outside of ourselves.

While the commentary in Montreal Counter-Info proposes a model of solidarity that misses the opportunity for deeper understanding, unity, and empowerment, its assertion that showing up is never the wrong thing remains true: “While solidarity in words means little at the moment, solidarity in the streets will never be too much.” In this moment, we must not look away – with our eyes on Palestine, and a critical gaze toward every violent nation state, including our own, we can turn to each other and find a way forward.

Invitation to the First International Gathering of Anarchist and Antiauthoritarian Practices in Tijuana, Mexico

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Nov 082023

Anonymous submission to MTL Counter-info

From the territory dominated by the Mexican State, we sound this call for the First International Gathering of Anarchist and Antiauthoritarian Practices to take place in the borderlands of Tijuana, Mexico.

We are organizing for the gathering to take place January 25, 26 and 27 2024, with the goal of agitation, solidarity, and self-organization of anarchist and antiauthoritarian rage against the borders across lands, the borders in our minds, and the emotional borders between us as individuals. As part of the anarchist legacy of confrontation, we have never invested any hope in the political spectacle of elections, nor waited passively for some rupture from “the masses,” nor expected the appearance of a clearly defined revolutionary subject to descend upon us and make the revolution or raise the consciousness of the bosses, the rich, or their lackeys.

Accordingly, we invite all collectives, projects, and individuals involved in publishing, audio-visual propaganda, counter-information, anti-prison work, and anyone else that advances daily on the treacherous path of anarchism and antiauthoritarianism—of attacks against power—to send in your proposals for workshops, discussions, book presentations, short films and documentaries, musical performances, works of theater or other art, which will be spread horizontally, in solidarity, and self-organized in an offensive against power and its henchmen.

To propose an activity, please reach us at:

We will update the organization of the gathering as we continue to confirm the activities.

For more information:


When we leave we do not march: Anarchist thoughts on Palestine solidarity

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Nov 032023

Anonymous submission to North Shore Counter-Info. Those interested in this proposal might visit (using Tor)

Today, November 1st 2023, when the veil is at its thinnest, the dead in Gaza speak to us.

We, the writers, are not Palestinian. We write this for fellow north american anarchists of a certain type. You’ll see yourself as you read. We also write this for the anarchy-adjacent, and for anyone who is interested.

The horror of Israel’s genocide of Palestinians is deep, inescapable, and intricate. We, anarchists and those close to anarchy, understand the history, the context of apartheid, the numbers, the hypocrisy, the exceptionalism, the cruelty, the torture. We sob. We lose sleep, and friends, and family.

We feel helpless, so we undertake the relatively and subjectively fearsome tasks available  in the current repertoire of “resistance”. These tasks are fine, and understandable: marches, popular education, “movement-building”, “speaking out” at school or at work, petitions and declarations, non-violent direct action.

Are you truly satisfied with the fine and understandable? Is the moral righteousness of “taking a stand” all that you need to live in freedom with others?

We see each other on the streets, marching grimly. We see each other on the subway, or at our places of work or study, wearing keffiyehs or other talismans of who we are and where we stand. We  see hundreds of thousands like us, in the glassy black mirrors of our lives, lit up with both spectacles of death, and spectacles of refusal.

It is unnecessary to repeat to each other, and possibly to anyone else, what we already understand. Anarchists, please don’t waste your time organizing webinars. Someone else will write the petitions, make the memes, write the tweets. Leave the begging of the state to the liberals. Hundreds of thousands will inevitably fill the perennial role of those who grovel for scraps, for concessions, for living death, instead of full and ecstatic life. They will film themselves dancing out these rituals.

What are these social movements that march and beg? Mass theatre. It’s fine and understandable, but don’t overestimate it.

We don’t beg. We take.

What of the students who are censored, the teachers who risk losing their jobs? Resist the seduction of individal drama raised onto the pedestal of collective action. That’s the work of radicals who have accepted they are living in non-radical times, professional revolutionaries making their personal trouble into a campaign.

It’s fine and understandable for some – but anarchists, please, don’t waste much of your breath arguing with enemies and trying to prove to the world you are right.

The speeches, the poems, the open letters, and declarations? Do these things quickly and don’t let yourself get exhausted by it, because words drift and flutter and dissolve, as will this text. Enjoy their transient effect while they last, but know that the expressions that last are of a more concrete kind.

Direct action? How direct is it? How long does it last? Is the effect just another colourful blip on the network of black mirrors, plus a fine or charge? We hear slogans chanted as you, the solidarity activist, gets dragged away. It’s good you’re doing the scary meaningful thing – whatever that may be for you, or you, or you. It is fine and understandable. But is that it? Is your end game just to shut down a small part of the infrastructure of genocide for a few hours, and inspire others and make people think?

Not all direct action gets the goods.

Whatever you do above ground, maybe it’s time to take it under. Whatever you do with the utmost care and secrecy, maybe now’s the time get even better at it.

It’s an old adage that few follow: Live as if you are already free.

We’re not going to be prescriptive except in this one regard: our entire existence should change. The horror compels us to do so. If you’ve been hesitant, the time is now to dramatically transform the self, the way we relate to it, and the way we relate to others. No matter how many stupid social rules you have already discarded, get ready to toss away even more. It’s not just a quantative effort, though: you’ll need to face the sacred cows of your subservience, your biggest fears, the most daunting obstacles.

Only in the condition of living free can we ever be able to enact our desire to live with Gazans in freedom. Together, literally or symbolically, we want to share food, tell stories, dance and sing songs, bask in the warmth of the sun, and marvel at the deep night sky.

It’s time not just for reversals, though these are fine and understandable for some: replacing inertia with action, silence with speech.

It’s time for a decisive step outside of the circle of death, the boring theatrics of refusal, repression, further protest, then more death. That circle is drawn by the nation state and his loyal pal: existing society. Within that circle, genocide and land theft will certainly persist, almost as if – it absurdly seems – fueled by our grief, our funeral marches.

If we haven’t already, it’s time for us to leave that circle, entirely. When we leave, we do not march.

Palestine: Reminders of What Solidarity Means

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Nov 022023

Anonymous submission to MTL Counter-info

Recent years have seen intense and conflictual debates within the radical left on how to act in solidarity with marginalised and oppressed groups and on the role of allies (a word to which many, including myself, prefer the term accomplices). There is no doubt that Indigenous, Black, queer and transfeminist struggles have deeply reshaped both vocabularies and practices, greatly enriching and complexifying our thoughts and struggles. These questions have simultaneously created profound disagreements, enabled new alliances, transformed relations of force, and led to scissions. Despite certain divisions, the particular context of the past years has at least established certain relatively agreed-upon principals, and I am stunned that we need to recall these principals now, as Israel’s war against the Palestinian people demands that we once again adopt a position of solidarity.

Apparently, the need to listen to and believe the oppressed, particularly when we find ourselves on the side of the oppressor, is not self-evident in the Palestinian context, even as it is considered imperative in many other contexts. Similarly, it is somehow unclear that we must take the posture notably adopted during Indigenous decolonial struggles : prioritize the voice(s) of the people concerned and acknowledging their complete leadership of the ongoing resistance movement. In our solidarity with Palestine, we must once again accept a secondary role: to sometimes stay silent, to listen, and to learn.

Listening does not mean stopping our critical reflection on the information and positions that we receive. Listening means avoiding the temptation to homogenize Palestinians, attempting to hear the multiple voices of their liberation movement, taking the time to try to understand their internal conflicts, and thinking with the care necessary when considering situations with foreign codes of meaning. And listening certainly means “not speaking” recognizing our extreme exteriority to the reality lived by Palestinians—in Palestine or elsewhere—and acknowledging that we may not be in a position to develop and publicly share strategic considerations. If this seems obvious to me, there is something I am even more certain of: it is in no way our role to emphasize “complexity” and bring “nuance” to the situation. At a moment when the so-called “complexity of the conflict” is constantly deployed to avoid a strong condemnation of Israel in the public space, to present this type of reflexion is simply unacceptable.

We must couple a position of true listening, with the humility and uncertainty this implies, with a position of firm and engaged solidarity. In a context where Canadian government keeps reiterating its support to Israeli violence, this second dimension is essential and urgent. Above all, we must show up. Go to protests and actions, regardless of whether their tactics could differ from the rituals of the Montreal far left. Solidarity with Palestine is not a question of abstract and symbolic internationalism, but of concrete opposition to our own state, which is materially engaged in the oppression of the Palestinian people.

We also bear this responsibility towards those for whom our home is a land of exile, whether it be temporary or permanent. It is critical that the Palestinians with whom we share our city not only feel respected as humans whose fundamental rights we defend, but as actors with real agency, possessing thoughts, heritages, and political practices that are rich and singular. As citizens of a state directly implicated in making Palestine inaccessible and uninhabitable for its diaspora, we must do all we can to make our home liveable for those who find themselves here, a place where life is a synonym of dignity and not solely survival, and where exile may unfold as a political experience. This comment also applies to those peoples for whom the Palestinian struggle is a fundamental issue deeply rooted in their political culture.

To Palestinians and their long-standing accomplices from the Middle East and Arab world: know that certain silences arise from an immense respect for your struggle, and they do not exclude total solidarity, in words and in actions. I release this statement only because I see my friends from the Middle East dismayed by the weak stance taken by local radical left; this has pushed me to write, out of the wish that my political world be a place of sincere welcome and solidarity.

To those who share my form of silence: show up. While solidarity in words means little at the moment, solidarity in the streets will never be too much.

Long live free Palestine.