This blog entry uses an asterisk after the prefix trans- as a way to include all non-cisgender gender identities.
November 20th is the Trans* Day of Remembrance, a day that was set aside to memorialize those who were killed due to anti-transgender hatred or prejudice. Although not every person represented during the Day of Remembrance self-identified as trans*, each was a victim of violence based on bias against trans* people.
As a trans* identified person who works in social services, I am often asked to speak, write, or facilitate about trans* identities and the ways that trans* people can experience oppression. November is a time when many people ask if I am going to organize or attend a vigil on the 20th. Often, I am asked questions about my personal narrative and how I feel about my personal safety and the increased risk that I must experience not being cisgender.
I often choose to attend Trans* Day of Remembrance events, but not because of my own gender identity. I recognize that I hold many privileges; privileges that were not granted to many of the people whose names are read each year at vigils around the world. Many of these victims experienced multiple forms of oppression including class, race, and gender. Many of these victims were women of colour.
I am white and working class. My wife and I are both university students. Although, I am a survivor of poverty, homelessness, addiction, and survival sexual exploitation, I have many privileges that allow me to now live without fear of having my name read out at the annual vigils.
Transgender Day of Remembrance is often criticized for further privileging the voices of the already-privileged. These voices are often held by White, upper-class, binary-gendered men and women who reflect the “role models” that trans* youth have in the media. The annual vigils involve activities which include reading the names of victims and the narratives of their deaths in the first person; many of these stories being told about women of colour but being told by White men of privilege.
These victims are reduced to their gender identity and their experiences with intersected oppression are erased. One activist described this act as deracializing the victims and privileging transphobia as the exclusive cause of violence.
It is important for me, as a white person with class privilege, to speak up about Trans* Day of Remembrance and to continue to act in solidarity with those who experience oppression because of my unearned structural power. This power is something that I need to keep in the front of my head with the work that I do, as my work is done as a settler on unceded Coast Salish Territory.
To me, working in solidarity includes calling out others on their privileges, especially in environments when white people are acting as martyrs on the backs of the trans* people whose names are read every year. This may cause more “fracture” within the “trans* community”, but these vigils are not about me. My personal narrative is not one of a survivor, but one who aims to be an ally and support to those who are surviving.
(photo by magnuscanis via Flickr)
Editor’s Note: Transgender Day of Remembrance vigils will be held tomorrow across Canada and around the world. For a list of vigils you can attend, visit transgenderdor.org.
Here are a few of the Canadian vigils I’m aware of. Unfortunately several were held this past weekend (Calgary, Edmonton, Regina, for example, so apologies for being a bit late on that). Please do post in the comments any that I’ve missed for the coming days.
Tuesday, November 20, 2012 from 11 a.m. to 12 p.m in the foyer of Province House.
This event is being hosted by the Nova Scotia Minister of Justice at the Nova Scotia Legislature.
There will be a proclamation read officially declaring the 20th November as Transgender Day of Remembrance in Nova Scotia.
We encourage all attendees to arrive 15 minutes prior to the event.
Please RSVP to Heather Boyle by Monday, November 19th via email or phone; firstname.lastname@example.org or (902) 424-4020
Friday 23rd at 7pm at the Universalist Unitarian Church of Halifax – 5500 Inglis St.
Doors open at 6.30.
There will be the reading of the names, quest speakers and social time. All are welcome.
For more information, contact Regina Lohnes at email@example.com
Sunday, November 25, 2012 at 7:30pm at Homegrown Hamilton – 27 King William Street
Event to be focused on the role of allies in speaking out against – and stopping – trans* violence
Tuesday, November 20, 2012 at 7:00 PM at the Okanagan Rainbow Coalition Center, 1476 Water Street, near the downtown bus terminal.
After the reading of the names, the event will conclude with a walk to The Sails to release a floating lantern (wind permitting).
For further information, please contact Catherine at 250.863.0209 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Tuesday, November 20, 2012 7:00 – 9:00 PM at the CAW local 27, 606 First street
Tuesday, November 20th at 6pm on the McGill University downtown campus,at the Y-intersection (a.k.a. the Crossroads; located outside, centrally between Roddick Gates and the Arts Building) 805 Sherbrooke Street West.
Tuesday, November 20, 2012 there will be a Candlelight Vigil at the Canadian Human Rights Monument. Contact: email@example.com.
Tuesday November 20th from 6:15 pm til 7:30 pm at East Mississauga Community Health Centre (EMCHC), 2555 Dixie Road, Unit 7, Mississauga (South on Dixie Rd)
Light refreshments will be served, Gender Neutral bathrooms, Accessible space, Transit accessible (bus tickets available)
Prince George, BC
Candlelight vigil at City Hall on Tuesday, November 20, 2012 from 6:00 PM-7:00 PM
November 20, 2012 at 6:00 pm at the University of Saskatchewan campus, Arts Building room 214 presented by the University of Saskatchewan’s Pride Centre and the Avenue Community Centre.
A presentation on the background of TDR will be held in the Arts Building, following the presentation we will move outside for a candle light vigil to honour those who have been lost.
St. Catharines, ON
Tuesday, November 20th at 7pm at the Silver Spire United Church, 366 St. Paul Street
Thunder Bay, ON
Tuesday, November 20, 6 PM Documentary screening at Lakehead University (955 Oliver Road)
Followed by a candlelight vigil at City Hall at 8:30 PM, 500 Donald St. E
Wednesday, November 21, 2012 at the Glendon Campus (York University’s Bilingual Campus)’s Queer-Ally group at Bayview and Lawrence in Toronto, Ontario. Candlelight ceremony will begin at 7:45 PM.
Tuesday, November 20, 2012 5:30-8:00pm at the Art Gallery in the Student Union Building, UBC
Guest speakers, historical documentary footage of TDOR taken by Shelley Provost, community open mic, remembering murdered victims with stories, reading of names, lighting of candles, and flag raising ceremonies.
Sexual Assault Support Centre support staff will be present, and Trans Tea Time’s meeting will follow the event. Light refreshments will be served at 5:30 pm.
Contact SASC@ams.ubc.ca for inquiries.
Organizers note this event is taking place on unceded and occupied Coast Salish Territory = Tsleil-Waututh, Musqueum, and Squamish nations respectively.
Tuesday, November 20, 2012, 7PM – 9 PM at the Carnegie Community Centre (401 Main Street), 3rd floor. There will be a documentary screening, candle-lighting, and time for decompression and discussion. Space is fully accessible.
Tuesday November 20, 2012, 6-7PM (doors open at 5:30PM) at Circle of Life Thunderbird House, 715 Main St.
Light snacks, warm refreshments, gender neutral washrooms, and ASL interpretion will be provided.
This free, all ages, event will be located in an accessible, drug and alcohol free venue.