Transgender Day of Remembrance 2009

As anyone who reads this blog probably knows, today is the 11th annual Transgender Day of Remembrance. Although I am by no means an expert on trans issues, what little I do know has made it clear that this is something that really, really matters. This year alone, more than 160 people, that we know of, and most likely many more, were murdered because they did not conform to the gender binary. Many of these murders were never solved, or never resulted in a conviction, and the cycle of violence shows no sign of stopping. The “trans panic” defense is still perceived by many as legitimate. Trans and gender-nonconforming people are often treated as subhuman, their very existence seen as a joke, and their gender identity ignored (usually through the use of incorrect pronouns, or, even more horrifically, the word “it”) in the media, even in the coverage of their murders. This is not acceptable. We, as human beings, should understand that this is not acceptable, yet transphobia continues to be ubiquitous. The internet is rife with casually transphobic comments. We are told not to take these things seriously, but the fact is that, by constantly dehumanizing trans people and treating them as objects of ridicule rather than human beings deserving of respect, we contribute to the idea that some lives are worth more than others; that people who conform to an arbitrary gender binary are somehow more human, more valuable.

As I mentioned earlier, I’m no expert, and everything that I’ve written so far is a purely emotional reaction to the things I’ve read today and over this past year. Feministing, Questioning Transphobia, transgenderdor.org, and a number of other blogs have more coherent postings and useful information than I can provide here. I would, however, like to highlight some of the Transgender Day of Remembrance events going on in Toronto today.

At the University of Toronto, anyone is welcome to help build an installation art piece outside Sidney Smith Hall, at 100 St. George, between noon and 2PM. A moment of silence will be held at 1PM. Work on the installation will continue at the Centre for Women and Trans people (at 563 Spadina Ave.) from 2-4.

George Brown College will also be hosting an event from noon to 1PM, at 200 King St. East, fifth floor.

The 519 Church Street Community Centre will be holding an event at 7PM that will feature performances, readings of names, and a moment of silence.

There are many other events being held, all over the world. Please take the time to attend one, if you can, and to spread awareness to others about this day and what it means.

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