Live from the islands: the storm that did not take place
“What are mixed toilets?”
The man turned to me when he saw the two toilet doors, one on his left, the other on his right, without any indication. Not a fisherman on one side and a mermaid on the other, no pink or blue.
I had never noticed before, and yet I often came to drink a beer on the magnificent terrace of “L’abri de la Tempête”, a microbrewery in the Magdalen Islands founded in 2004, the first to be from Quebec. A crazy dream, an old crab factory near the beach of Corfu, named after a ship stranded in 1963.
The Shelter is now an institution in the Islands, its beers are everywhere on the archipelago and beyond, about a third of the production is exported.
We are in the process of enlarging.
I had never paid any attention to the logo of the microbrewery, we can see a silhouette, muscular arms hold a barrel that covers the face, another barrel conceals the rest of the body, up to the knees.
Like Élise Cornellier-Bernier, who, until three years ago, was working very hard not to show what she was.
She founded the microbrewery with Anne-Marie Lachance, with whom she was in a relationship before settling in the Islands. They had in common the love of good beer. “Anne-Marie and I have always worked together. […] But I was very unhappy in general, there was a lot of alcohol, a lot of aggressiveness. I worked tirelessly to escape. ”
She had made a character. “I lived with my own prejudices about transphobia, I had transphobic remarks to dissociate myself from that, to see also the reaction of the people around me. I wanted to be the most masculine. I knew it since always, since I was little, but I refused it. I was frustrated, I did not want that … ”
As soon as she could, out of sight, she was dressed as a woman. “It’s the only thing that made me feel good. When I came out of the house, it was like a punishment. The real me was caught at home. ”
A little before Christmas, in 2015, she called her father to tell him that she would not go to see him at the holidays. “I told him,” I’m tired … “I was always tired, I consulted, but it did not help. There, my father told me: “If you do nothing, you will die. Do anything, whatever it is. ”
She knew what.
“It was not long before everything started, as if my father had just given me the key, because it was his reaction that I feared the most. I made an appointment with my family doctor here, I was the first trans person in the Islands, he had no reference. He pointed me to a resource he knew in Montreal, I found others on my side on the Internet. ”
“I started taking my hormones and testosterone blockers. It was a deliverance, life became beautiful. ”
She had just turned 40 years old.
She was not at the end of her troubles, he had to announce, first to Anne-Marie, with the fear that the microbrewery scooped. “When I told her, she went off a bit … When she came back in the morning, she said,” That’s good news! “And she’s been helping me since then, it’s going really well.”
She had not seen anything coming.
Elise took the plane to tell her parents – they responded rather well – she let her mother call “the aunt who jazes the most” for the news to spread throughout the family.
There remained the customers of the microphone.
And the Islands.
“June 26 every year is the anniversary of the microphone. We are having a big party, we are launching our new palavers [limited quantities of beers], we congratulate our employees. That’s where I announced it. Before finishing, everyone had a glass of beer in their hand, I spoke up and said: “The beer you have before you has been brewed in pain and discomfort. From now on, it will be brewed in happiness and acceptance. ”
There were 200 people. “Everyone was crying.”
By doing that, Elise cut short gossip. It says here that “the rumor kills more than the tumor”, she took the lead. “I wanted to break the circle of prejudices,” the very ones she was spreading not so long ago. “Making a transition can be very rough . I was lucky, I came out unscathed, and not too maged. ”
She knows that it has jade.
Contrary to what one might think, Élise is convinced that being in a small environment has helped. “In town, you can maybe get dressed and do what you want, but try to find a job … I see a lot of poverty among trans people in town and I see trans smiles in the region. There is a compassion here that is not found in the city, where there is anonymity. ”
People saw the courage he needed.
She went to CrossFit, she had stopped training to reduce her build. “I lost 30% of my muscle mass, I became less strong.” She even returned to kitesurfing, she was in the top in her life before. At the beginning of July, she participated in a Kitesurf competition, finished second in a category, first in Big Air. “It was my strength.”
This is the first time she has registered as a woman.
For the microbrewery, the storm she feared did not occur. “We were really scared because you do not know what level of transphobia is in society. We were afraid of losing sales, people are judging us, but the opposite is true. It just grows! ”
Storm Shelter has even launched the Trans IPA, which is actually a White IPA. “At first, it was a nod to transsexuality, but it became a regular beer. One of the things that gives me the greatest pleasure is when a big biker arrives at the bar to order and says, “I’ll take you a trans!”
She did not smile before.