Frequently Asked Questions About Our New Name
Why Have We Changed Our Name?
In 2014, the Victoria Women’s Sexual Assault Center formally changed its name to the Victoria Sexual Assault Centre (VSAC). Our services remain the same, but are now open to women and all [trans1] and gender variant survivors, including those who do not identify as women. Changing our name is just one of the active steps we have made to become a [trans] inclusive agency.
We also believe our new name better encompasses the work we have always done. Some of the services at the Victoria Sexual Assault Centre are, and have always been, open to all genders, including the Sexual Assault Response Team, Crisis & Information Line and Project Respect.
No one deserves to experience violence, and through a feminist lens our intention is to examine gender based violence as a broad system that affects all of us. We believe that adequately addressing sexualized violence begins by:
- continuing our unwavering dedication to support survivors of sexualized violence
- engaging in conversations about masculinity and consent through our Prevention Education and events
- holding supportive spaces that include [trans] survivors.
Are You Still a Feminist Agency?
Yes! Our agency is deeply rooted in feminist principles, which are strengthened with our decision to become [trans] inclusive. We believe the purpose of feminism is to create equality and to improve the lives of people who have been oppressed, marginalized and exploited because of their gender. Read why it’s important for feminism to be inclusive.
Though we no longer have “women” in our name we still recognize that both locally and globally the majority of individuals who experience sexualized and other forms of gender based violence are women.
What Is [Trans] Inclusion?
[Trans] inclusion refers to the active process of making services accessible and welcoming to [trans1] individuals. Though our services were already open to trans women we did not actively advertise this, nor did we engage in dialogue with trans women about how to make our Centre more inclusive. Part of becoming [trans] inclusive is certainly to address these concerns and to get better at supporting trans women. The decision to broaden our services to encompass all [trans] people comes from a better understanding of the complexities of gender identity. It also comes from a recognition of the immediate need to have a safe and welcoming place for [trans] survivors to access healing support while other community organizations engage in their own conversations about how to be more gender aware and inclusive.
As we continue on our journey of inclusion we recognize that we will make mistakes and we intend on learning and growing through these mistakes. We are excited that this process and any changes will be guided by feedback from [trans] people and their allies and we intend on bringing our knowledge about what we have learned to the broader community so that all services become more knowledgeable about how to be more welcoming to [trans] people.
What does VSAC do to create safety for clients?
Safety is very important to us and it’s something that we are always taking into account when making decisions about our space, services and how we operate. Some of the ways we do this are by being transparent about what we do and don’t offer and what our services look like so all of our clients can make informed choices that best suit their individual needs.
Although our intention is to create safer spaces to everyone, we cannot guarantee how people will react in certain situations. If harm does occur (with or without intent), our counsellors are available and trained to navigate these situation and to respond in the most appropriate way.We welcome any feedback about your experience at the Centre, and if at anytime you have questions or concerns, please talk directly to your counsellor about it.
What support exists for cisgender men?
How Does This Change Affect Funding?
Our funding and programs will remain the same. The Ministry of Justice has approved our new mandate and updated our government contracts to include Stopping the Violence counselling and Victim Services for women and all [trans1] survivors.
We also appreciate the Vancouver Foundation for recognizing [trans] inclusion as a priority and providing us with a three year grant (2013-2016) to assist with our transition to be [trans] inclusive. This grant provided funds for staff time and resources to change policies, services, physical space, forms, and training; to offer community education and workshops; and to document and share our experience for other Centres that are considering going through a similar process.