There was a heavy sense of solemnness as a banner of pink, white and blue rose high over the front lawn of B.C.’s legislature for all of Victoria to see.
Members of the 2SLGBTQ+ community, alongside allies and MLAs, gathered in front of the legislature on Sunday (Nov. 20) to observe Transgender Day of Remembrance and hoist the transgender flag on the flagpole.
“This morning – waking up to that news – on Transgender Day of Remembrance is a very recent, raw reminder that hate kills,” Grace Lore, parliamentary secretary for gender equity, said in reference to the mass shooting at a gay nightclub in Colorado Springs, Colo. on Saturday (Nov. 19) that killed five people and left 18 injured. “It is devastating,” said Lore. “And the loss of life, the targeted violence because of who people are is something we must stand against.”
The day commemorates the lives of transgender, two-spirit and non-binary people who have lost their lives to transphobic violence. It also recognizes the struggles of those who continue to suffer mistreatment and discrimination due to their identity.
Aaron Devor, chair of transgender studies at the University of Victoria, spoke at the ceremony, emphasizing the ongoing battle many in the transgender community face and the work still needed in the province and beyond.
“Although some of us now are able to enjoy some privileges, most trans people live daily lives punctuated by indignities and abuses — both large and small, both aggressive and inadvertent,” he said.
According to Ace Mann, secretary of the Victoria Pride Society, this year has been the deadliest on record for violence against transgender and gender non-conforming people. Mann said that up to 82 per cent of transgender and non-binary people have had suicidal thoughts, with about one in two making an attempt.
“Keep in mind these statistics do not take into account the disproportionate amount of discrimination faced with intersecting identities,” they said. Mann added that BIPOC, disabled and homeless transgender people are affected “in greatest numbers yet” and that up to 96 per cent of those killed in attacks motivated by hate each year identify as both Black and transgender.
While Lore acknowledged steps that the provincial government has taken to recognize transgender identity, including making it easier for B.C. residents to correct their gender marker on government-issued identification earlier this year, she said there’s still work to be done. Lore added that she’s confident David Eby, who was sworn in as B.C.’s 37th premier on Nov. 18, is committed to tackling 2SLGBTQ+ issues in communities across the province.
“I know that’s something he’s committed to and I’m really looking forward to working with him on these issues going forward.”
If you or someone you know needs help, please call the Trans Lifeline at 1-877-330-6366.
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