ONTD Political

TW: Transphobia, classism, homelessness, mentions of violence, abuse, suicide, murder, stats that are depressing as fuck

Transgender Day of Remembrance: A Call to House Our Homeless

Nov. 20 is Transgender Day of Remembrance, or "TDOR," a day of memorial for those in the trans community who have been lost to violence. The number of trans or gender-variant people murdered each year is horrifying: Around the globe, we lose about five people a week to such violence. TDOR elicits reflection on this type of discrimination and violence. The memorials are solemn and leave those of us who have lost our brothers and sisters grief-stricken.

The epidemic of discrimination, hate and violence toward the trans community has been well-documented by the National Transgender Discrimination Survey, but perhaps more succinctly by Transgender Europe (TGEU) and the report of their Trans Murder Monitoring Project. The project recently published the number of those murdered, 265, with the caveat that these cases are just "those that we know" (as always).

TDOR is what I call the first day of "transgender winter" each year. It's important to remember that employment discrimination, loss of income and loss of family also result in the loss of one's home in many cases. Underemployment does not provide a suitable home, food for sustenance or even basic health care. Working in the underground economy helps along many transgender individuals but also puts those working in it at high risk of violence. Many are living on the streets in the cold of winter with no place to go. Emergency shelters that have open beds are usually only available overnight between dusk and dawn, and most transitional shelters are already filled until spring. And those are just the shelters that accept trans people and treat them in the proper manner.

TDOR should remain solemn and kept fixed on its purpose, but it should also sound the call to end the violence, discrimination and alarming rates of homelessness that trans-identified people face. The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development's amendment to the Fair Housing Act that ended housing discrimination for LGBT-identified individuals and the Employment Equal Opportunity Commission's ruling to end employment discrimination based on gender identity are new tools to help end homelessness in the trans community. As shelters seek renewal of their HUD grants, they should be encouraged to follow a new model of affirmation and acceptance of trans-identified and gender-variant people. Renovation to single-bed shelter rooms needs to be the rule and not the exception, because single-bed shelter rooms accommodate the privacy one needs and deserves. Municipalities should be encouraged to develop LGBTQ-specific, supported housing units. Nondiscrimination legislation must include gender identity and gender expression among protected classes as such legislation is introduced across states and within municipalities with the key phrase "public accommodations" in the language.

As we remember those whom we have lost, we need to remember why we lost them and call for equal rights and treatment. Activists now have tools in their hands to help change the way we live and how we can help our homeless. We need to become visible in the places where we are not known and remain visible where we have already been seen. TDOR is a sad day for all, but it also should be the day when we call for better.


HuffPo also has a pretty great slideshow of 50 Trans Icons that reminds us that we've come so far, that change is happening. (Altho I'm side-eyeing the inclusion of Buck Angel. (TW: Transphobia, transmisogyny racism, classism))

Trans legislation imminent on Day of Remembrance
Canada ready to pass C-279 as candlelight vigils planned across the country

It is not an accident that federal Bill C-279 -- which will enshrine “gender identity” into Canada’s Human Rights Act -- heads to committee on International Trans Day of Remembrance Nov 20.

NDP MP Randall Garrison says his office worked hard to make that happen. The landmark legislation represents a public statement by Parliament that transphobic discrimination and violence is not acceptable, and that trans people deserve equality and respect -- “A fitting tribute," says Garrison.

The Standing Committee for Justice and Human Rights will hear deputations on Bill C-279 over two days, Nov 20 and 22, before casting a final vote.

Garrison made the decision to compromise and seek Conservative support by amending the bill to remove “gender expression,” leaving only “gender identity.” Some trans activists have criticized the move, but he maintains the amendment is necessary to get the bill passed.

“That’s what I promised to get my 15 Conservative votes,” he says. “I don’t think it has any major legal implications, but it makes people more comfortable.”

While it’s not ideal, he says, most trans people are comfortable with that. “Otherwise we can’t make progress. Not everyone will be 100 percent happy. I’m not. But this is the reality of a Conservative majority government.”

“I don’t think it presents any legal obstacles. The courts have always considered ‘gender identity’ and ‘gender expression’ linked.”

Still, Garrison says, if Bill C-279 passes it should be lauded across Canada as a historic step forward to ensure trans human rights. It sends a strong message to the rest of the world.

“I will make a statement in Parliament to acknowledge [Trans Day of Remembrance] and the ongoing violence, but also note that there’s some positive things happening in Canada,” he says.

The 14th annual Trans Day of Remembrance (TDoR) started in 1999 as a response to horrific attacks on trans people. This year, the names of 265 trans people are added to a growing international list, the Trans Murder Monitoring (TMM) project reveals. The project monitors, collects and analyses reports of homicides of trans people worldwide.

“Trans Day of Remembrance is a day of mourning,” says Trans Lobby Group chair Susan Gapka. “It’s a day organized by people who want to remember those who have been brutally murdered. It makes them not invisible. It’s important to bring attention to those invisible lives.”

There have been 1083 reports of murdered trans people in 56 countries since January 2008. The numbers represent only a fraction of the real figures, TMM states. “The truth is much worse. These are only the reported cases.”

This year there are a number of TDoR events across the country, including at Toronto's the 519 Church Street Community Centre from 7pm to 9pm.

“The reality is 50 percent of trans people will attempt suicide, and 50 percent live in poverty,” says NDP MPP Cheri DiNovo.

In June, Ontario passed Toby’s Act, a landmark piece of legislation that inserts “gender identity and gender expression” into the provincial human rights code.
By doing so, Ontario has stepped up as a leader in trans rights.

“Toby’s Act has global implications because it has set a bar. It’s the only piece of legislation of its kind that includes ‘gender expression,’” says DiNovo. “It’s very important that it now spreads province to province.”

DiNovo, who first introduced Toby’s Act in 2007, says she wants to see all Canadian provinces adopt similar legislation over the next five years. Manitoba has already drafted a similar bill, and Nova Scotia has promised to draft one soon, she says.

“And in Ontario it’s already being used. Trans people are asserting their rights,”
she says.

Davina Hader, Trans Lobby Group member and newly elected vice-chair of Queer Ontario, says progress is happening because trans activists continue to push and be visible.

“I see a lot of things happening right now with students,” she says. “Monumental policies.

“This Trans Day of Remembrance I am thinking about trans people around the world who are victimized everyday. But this has been a great year, which is good for Ontario and good for Canada.”


I have a really big problem with 'gender expression' being removed from Bill C-279. But with a Conservative majority this is probably the only way to get is passed without having to wait another 4-5 years. It's shit either way and, at the end of the day, legislation doesn't take away systemic issues of transphobia that perpetuate violence and death. But it's a big step nonetheless.

By the way, this is not a space for ignorant cis people to show their asses. This is about remembering our dead, about a community mourning for how much we've lost, for those we are going to lose. Remembering is a tricky thing. We remember our dead, their words, their struggles, their loves, their lives taken. Remember the ache of loss and brittle hope of tomorrow. Remember our living, our strengths, our victories, the families we find through shared pain and experiences and triumphs and, most of all, shared love.

And even with how hard and painful and unfair and cruel the world is don't forget you are not alone. None of us are. You are not sick, not wrong, not sinful, not broken, not inhuman. You are beautiful and wonderful, brilliant and brave and bright and loved. There is nothing wrong with you, with us. It's important that we remember this, too. ♥
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