Every day transgender and non-binary individuals face adversity, bullying and even the threat of death and for one afternoon those who died were remembered in a somber ceremony.
The Transgender Day of Remembrance was solemnly marked by an event at Red Deer College Sunday afternoon. People shared their experiences of being transgender and facing bullying and adversity.
Lucas Gagnon, Red Deer’s Trans and Non-binary Aid Society spokesperson, called it a global memorial service. It started in 1999 in Massachusetts and was observed by hundreds of cities around the world. The day is to memorialize the people who have been murdered as a result of transphobia. In 2016, about 295 transgender individuals died as a result of violence and transphobia.
Speeches and introductions from transgender people in Red Deer, including Gagnon, started the event followed by a slideshow of those killed this year and a question and answer session.
“It builds that sense of community,” said Gagnon. “In all our speeches, there were four of them, we talked about our own experiences, how we perceive the community, what we can do to help and end with a message of hope.
“If any body who listened was a transgender person or non-binary individual, they would take away a message of hope. These are hard facts, but people are always going to have your back.”
Despite the somber speeches and slideshow, Gagnon described the question and answer as “upbeat.”
“It gave the audience not only an opportunity to ask questions to us, but to see we’re people,” said Gagnon. “They got to see us as people and not just statistics.”
With the recent election of Donald Trump in the U.S. in mind, the slideshow focused on the transgender or non-binary Americans who were killed this year.
But closer to home, Gagnon said there is still a lot of work to do in Red Deer to make it more tolerant for everyone.
The event at the college was put on in partnership with the Trans and Non-binary Aid Society and the Red Deer College Pride on Campus organizations.