Nov. 19, 2020

UCalgary observes Transgender Day of Remembrance

Student group plans flag raising and moment of silence Nov. 20

Julie Berman, 51, from Toronto, and an unnamed victim, 49, from Montreal are two transgender people who were murdered in Canada this year. Their names are among the 430 transgender lives that were lost globally in the last 12 months, and whose names will be read aloud on the Transgender Day of Remembrance Nov. 20. Many of the victims on this list died as a result of transphobic violent acts, and murder. Of these, an estimated 80 per cent of the victims are trans woman or trans femmes of colour, which highlights the disproportionate impacts transphobia has on racialized communities. 

UCalgary’s student group Queers on Campus is one of many organizations around the world taking part in the Nov. 20 global event. The group organizers have worked with university administration to mark the day with the raising of the transgender flag, pausing for a moment of silence, to remember those who lost their lives this year.

  • Photo above: Queers on Campus advocates for LGTBQ2S+ issues in the community, including the 2019 Calgary Pride parade. Photo by Queers on Campus

“The length of the list and the time it takes to read it shows the gravity of it,” says Rebecca Holm, a UCalgary student and executive member of Queers on Campus. “When a trans person dies, it’s a long list of things that systemically have gone wrong. It’s important to highlight the death and all the problems that that lead up to these things. Trans people often have lack of access to education and health care, and often suffer high rates of substance abuse, homelessness and unemployment.”

Due to COVID-19 restrictions on campus, the event is limited to a small number of invited guests, and most people are being asked to experience it virtually on UCalgary’s institutional social media channels.

Following the flag raising, Queers on Campus is asking that people join in an online session to reflect on the day. The event will be held on Zoom at 1:30 p.m. Attendees are asked to RSVP on Facebook to receive the password ahead of time.

“We are doing this for the community and to support each other," says Holm. "It’s meant to be a safe space for us to reflect and have solidarity." Holm hopes that people who are curious about the transgender community join the live stream and participate in their moment of silence. “If this is a low-stakes way for someone to join an event, and try to understand my community, that’s great. I want people to see the humanity in it and the issues we face.”

Transgender Day of Remembrance (TDOR) is an annual observance on Nov. 20 that honours the memory of the transgender people whose lives were lost in acts of anti-transgender violence. Read more.

Learn more about Remembering Trans Lives, by reading an article by The Graduate Student Association, Gender and Sexuality Alliance subcommittee. Read more.