Vancouver Rape Relief centre vandalized, likely over restrictions for transgender people

The investigation continues into a case of vandalism at the Vancouver Rape Relief and Women’s Shelter. David Zura reports staff showed up for work on Tuesday morning to hateful messages on the windows of the building.

Content warning: This story includes images with words that may be offensive or disturbing to some readers.

VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) — A shelter offering support services for battered women and rape victims has been vandalized twice in about two weeks, and a policy that denies services to transgender women is likely the reason why.

Hilla Kerner with the Vancouver Rape Relief and Women’s Shelter says about two weeks ago, a dead rat was found nailed to the door. Tuesday morning, staff found threats and angry messages scrawled on windows.

Graffiti on the building’s windows include messages like “Kill TERFS” and “TERFS go home you are not welcome.” TERF is an acronym for “trans-exclusionary radical feminism.”

The centre has been criticized for excluding transgender women from its services, including peer-to-peer counselling and shelters.

RELATED: Trans activists concerned with Vancouver Rape Relief getting public funds

Kerner says her organization is being targeted for that policy, saying those services are only for women who were born female.

“It’s a very controversial position in Vancouver and it’s totally okay for people to disagree and not to support our position, but to make those kinds of threats is appalling,” she says.

“Often our members will be targeted. People are expressing their disapproval of us, but we haven’t faced such unacceptable threats until now.”

The centre has filed a report with Vancouver police, and officers have suggested putting up cameras to deter vandalism.

Earlier this year, the City of Vancouver stripped the shelter of its funding because of policies that have been widely condemned by transgender advocates as discriminatory.

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