Nine years of remembering

Trans Day of Remembrance honours the lives of those lost in 2008

Approximately 40 people gathered outside Stauffer Library to mark the ninth annual Trans Day of Remembrance
Approximately 40 people gathered outside Stauffer Library to mark the ninth annual Trans Day of Remembrance

If you happened to walk past Stauffer Library last night, you would have noticed a group of close to 40 people gathered on the corner of Union Street and University Avenue.

Holding candles and forming a small circle, members of both the Queen’s and Kingston communities came together to mark the Trans Day of Remembrance, an annual day of reflection and a time to remember those killed over the year for being transgendered or transsexual.

Emma Daughton, ConEd ’11 and educational and political chair for the Education on Queer Issues Project (EQuIP), organized the candlelight vigil and the screening of You Don’t Know Dick in co-ordination with the Women’s Empowerment Committee and the Committee on Gender. She said the Trans Day of Remembrance, first marked in 1999, is an important event for everyone to recognize, not just those who are directly affected by violence toward the trans community.

“It’s a time to remember and just reflect on the violence that’s in our world,” she said, adding that in the past year 30 people worldwide were killed for being trans.

As part of the vigil, the name of each victim is read aloud, as well as their date of death, the circumstances under which they died and their age. This year, victims ranged in age from 15- to 45-years-old.

“The vigil is really important as a remembrance and respect moment,” Daughton said, adding that this year there were victims in the U.K., the U.S., Italy, Mexico, Portugal, Germany, Malaysia, Iraq, Chile and Spain.

Although there were no victims from Canada, Daughton said the issue of trans violence remains important.

“There has been a history of trans violence [in Canada] in the past,” she said. “There are places in the world where this is a strong reality, where people are killed because they’re perceived to be different.”

Daughton said trans issues aren’t often discussed because they make people uncomfortable. Trans Day of Remembrance is a way to bring those issues into the open, she said.

“We really need to fight against that and respect the people who were killed for their identity,” she said. “As an institution Queen’s is not very progressive on trans issues. … There are not very many gender-neutral washrooms. … Largely people don’t think about it, and that’s the problem.”

Daughton said in order to improve, institutions need to face the ugliness of hate-based violence against the trans community.

“It’s not pleasant to think about because it doesn’t make our world pleasant,” she said. “Everything needs to be trans-positive and non-assumptive and not limit any identities. … It’s important to try and interact and act on this violence.”

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