TRANSGENDER NOVEMBER REMEMBER
The Transgender Day of Remembrance or TDOR for short, is an annual event held every November.
In Toronto we had a vigil in Allan Gardens, organized by Trans filmmaker Mirha Soleil Ross in 1997 for the three people, two of which were Trans women, that were slain in that area. The first officially recognized Trans Day of Remembrance (TDOR) was held in the U.S. in 1998, following the brutal murder of Taking Without Consent’s (TWOC) Rita Hester. Here in the TDot I attended the very first TDOR at The Church Street 519 Community Centre where they began holding an evening vigil in 2003, when Trans man Kyle Scanlon began working there.
My own partner transitioned decades ago before the current education and media saturation. The hate mail alone was horrific, much less the ostracism from our friends, family and community both queer and straight. I have actually been physically and verbally assaulted and lost a love interest due to transphobia. I stood up for my Trans brothers and sisters, I have protested alongside, helped with fundraisers. community projects all due to the fact I was brought up knowing that…
one – you don’t have to understand to be understanding, and
two – we are all equal.
Peeps get mighty afraid however of something they don’t know much about. Things are better in many ways now, however I was astounded that the figures on the deaths of Trans people has not significantly lowered in the past 20 years.
The number of lost Trans people over the last 12 months worldwide is 271… one of the highest in a few years. Sadly, this number includes only those reported, and we know that many deaths and acts of violence against Trans people go unreported. Tragically, Trans people have the highest rate of suicide than any other group (41%), due to the effects of constant societal transphobia.
Boyd Kodak is an activist and Trans artist who belongs to a non-profit, all volunteer run organization called The Toronto Trans Alliance, which is group of 1,500+ Trans people and their allies.
He told me “The recognition of TDOR gives us an opportunity to get this information out there, and hope to create awareness and education.”
The first flag raising at Toronto City Hall was last year, 2014. This year, 2015, it also had the first proclamation of TDOR by the City of Toronto, and a reception. There are numerous Trans flags throughout the World.
The 5 striped (pink, white and blue) was created in the U. S. It is used in the majority of the States and in a couple of places in England. The pink and blue with the Trans symbol was created and is used in Ottawa. The kaleidoscope flag was created in Toronto in 2014, to be reflective and inclusive of many the flags, including transgendered, non-binary, intersex, qenderqueer,…
“We are in our second year of operation.” Boyd explained, “We have a group page, where members can post information and converse, a Steering Committee that organizes events such as the TDOR flag raising, co-presentation of Hot Docs screenings, and community sponsorship in the INSPIRE Awards.
What strikes me this year is how many of my friends standing in numbers of strength, sorrow, and solidarity are no longer with us. Now I must remember them as well.
Jennifer, the beautiful artist whose dreamy acrylics emitting so much joy and hiding all the sadness she carried. Despite having full surgery she would never be able to give birth to that longed for baby of her own. Animal lover Kyle with his cheeky smile, was always getting involved whether to help someone with advice or take part in a community project. I can not leave out Mark the SOFFA who helped his filmmaker partner Mirah Soliel Ross start the Toronto Counting Past 2 Trans film festival with so much dedication, love and devotion.
All three of these wonderful human beings died by their own hand. While many believe suicide is a selfish act, none of these compassionate souls were selfish. I don’t know why they chose to end their lives, but unless you live under a rock on another planet, we all know how difficult a ” different” than societal norm life can become. Boyd along with the other members of TTA are “Working on creating a permanent memorial in Toronto, which will be the first Worldwide. We hope for the day we don’t have to meet on Nov 20 to memorialize the horrific number of deaths, but we will never forget those we have loved and lost.”
RIP my missed dear hearts and most beautiful friends.
Photos by guest writer/film director Kate Johnston
About the Author
Cat Grant OCAD is a multimedia artist. A published poet currently writing a book,she contributes to Hone Life, Jingobox and her blog for theBUZZ Kitty Indacity. Painting, sculpture, photography/video, choreography/dance & costume design also make her days. Cat has worked with Deadmau5, Panasonic, Sony, Konami and volunteers for many queer organizations.