Keely Martin
Keely Martin
December 2, 2019

UNB Remembers the Loss of Transgender Lives to Anti-Transgender Violence

Transgender day of Remembrance took place on November 20, with two services held in Fredericton.

Nov. 20 marked the Transgender Day of Remembrance, honouring and remembering individuals who have been affected by anti-transgender violence.

“This year 331 people have been lost to anti-transgender violence globally” said Grace Taylor, the eternal coordinator for 203 Centre for Gender and Sexual Diversity. “This marks 3314 recorded cases in 74 countries worldwide since the Transgender Murder Monitoring program started in 2008.”

Transgender Day of Remembrance, which is a day to honour and remember the lives of transgender people whose lives have been lost in acts of anti-transgender violence, took place on Nov 20, with two services held in Fredericton: one on UNB campus and one at the Charlotte Street Arts Centre. 

The Charlotte Street Arts Centre’s ceremony was hosted by Fredericton Gender Minorities (FGM). They read the names of the transgender people who were lost over this last year to anti-transgender violence. On Campus, instead of reading the names, the service had a slideshow with the names playing on screen so those in attendance could take the time to read them throughout the service. 

The event on campus may not have been a big turnout, but as Taylor said, “with any event like this, there are people who don’t come just because it’s very emotional and very personal.”

The on-campus service was held in MacLaggan Hall, and aimed to provide a more easily accessible way to participate for students who could not make it downtown. 

“The reason it’s on campus is for people who can’t get downtown at night, either because they live on campus, they don’t have a car, or because there’s some other barrier or they just work late at night or anything that prevents them from going to that service, we want them to have another option,” said Taylor. 

AJ Ripley, a non-binary professor at STU in the Human Rights department and a PhD student at UNB, was one of the speakers for UNB’s service. 

“[Transgender people] share this one thing in common; this thread that connects us heart to heart and tells us as we move about society,” they said. “The ways in which trans and gender diverse people are made to remember, never allowed to forget, the fact that we are simultaneously too much, and not enough for most people. And for this, they often hate us for our transness. They might even kill us.” 

This becomes more dangerous as both Taylor and Ripley mention when it is mixed with other forms of hate, such as misogyny, homophobia, and racism.

Taylor said that a form of anti-transgender violence that differentiates Canada from other countries is the violence faced upon Two-Spirit individuals. Taylor explained that Two-Spirit is an “umbrella term for indigenous gender identities beyond the binary of male and female that was created to reclaim these identities from years of racism and transphobia.” 

“Two-Spirit people are considered an important part of their respective communities, and had an important spiritual role in leadership, medicine and social ties of First Nations across Turtle Island, which is now called North America,” they said.  

A minute of silence was held to remember the loss of Two-Spirit individuals, followed by a seperate minute of silence after the speeches to remember the the lives of transgender people whose lives have been lost in acts of anit-transgender violence.

“Not a day goes by where a trans or gender diverse person is not made to remember never allowed to forget that we are endangered,” said Ripley. Not included in the 331 names of people killed in the previous year are those “misgendendered and misnamed even after their deaths, allowing violence and hate to continue to be perpetrated against them.” 

Ripley said that for some, they do not feel safe coming out. 

“We need to take a second and realize that for some coming out does equal death, like the names on the screen behind me. Coming out is anything but safe.”

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