Wilbur Turner, Advocacy Canada president, said the names of 393 people read out, complied from police and news reports across the globe, were killed because of targeted hate, violence and anti-trans bigotry.
“It doesn’t actually capture everyone, but it captures the names that were known because of the news and law enforcement sources,” Turner said.
Monday’s event was about more than commemoration, though.
“We want people to realize that trans people are regular folks just like everyone else, wanting to live their lives and be part of society, be part of culture, and contribute to society,” Turner said.
Calgarians hold vigil on Transgender Day of Remembrance
“Oftentimes they don’t get the chance because their lives are cut short and there’s also the factor of suicide.”
Turner said the pain of living with harassment, discrimination and targeted assaults becomes too much to bear for some.
Last year, fear of this kind of behaviour is why that day of remembrance was postponed.
“Last year (the event) was skipped because folks in the trans community didn’t feel safe, being visible for it,” Turner said.
“So this year, we tried to make sure that there were a good number of people to come out to support it.”
That was an anomaly, given that the event has been held annually for a number of years.
“I think it’s there’s more awareness now and there’s more folks, there are more allies that are coming out to support events like this today,” he said.
Transgender advocates in Canada have said transphobic rhetoric has made its way to school-based policies such as New Brunswick’s Policy 713 and Saskatchewan’s Parents’ Bill of Rights.
Both policies require students to have parental consent to be able to use a preferred first name or pronouns at school, rules LGBTQ advocates say are harmful to trans students.
Transgender Remembrance Day started in 1999 to honour the memory of Rita Hester, a Black trans woman from Massachusetts who was killed in her home.
— with files from Canadian Press
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