Hate crimes against transgender people are on the rise in Canada, dozens of people gathered Monday at Kelowna’s Stuart Park for Transgender Day of Remembrance heard.
Wilbur Turner, president of Advocacy Canada, said the names of 393 people read aloud, taken from police and media reports around the world, were k**led as a result of targeted hatred, violence and Anti-trans bigotry.
“It doesn’t actually capture everyone, but it captures names that were known through information and law enforcement sources,” Turner said.
Monday’s event was much more than just a commemoration, however.
“We want people to realize that trans people are regular people like everyone else, wanting to live their lives and be a part of society, culture and contribute to society,” Turner said.
“Often they don’t get the opportunity because their lives are cut short and there’s also the suicide factor.”
Turner said the pain of living with hara*sment, discrimination and targeted attacks is becoming too much for some to bear.
Last year, fear of this kind of behavior was the reason why this day of remembrance was postponed.
“Last year (the event) was ignored because people in the trans community didn’t feel safe and weren’t visible,” Turner said.
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“So this year we tried to make sure there were a good number of people to come and support him.”
This was an anomaly, given that the event has been held annually for several years.
“I think there’s more awareness now and there’s more people, there’s more allies coming out to support events like this today,” he said.
Transgender advocates in Canada have said transphobic rhetoric has made its way into school policies such as New Brunswick’s Policy 713 and Saskatchewan’s Parents’ Bill of Rights.
Both policies require students to have parental consent to use a preferred first name or pronouns at school, rules that LGBTQ rights advocates say are harmful to trans students.
Transgender Day of Remembrance began in 1999 to honor the memory of Rita Hester, a black trans woman from Ma*sachusetts who was k**led in her home.
— with files from the Canadian Press
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