By: Adriana Di Santo
MPP for Parkdale-High Park Cheri DiNovo is pushing for legislation to have Ontario officially recognize the Transgender Day of Remembrance.
The Transgender Day of Remembrance was founded by Gwendolyn Ann Smith, a transgender woman, nearly 20 years ago as a way to memorialize victims of transphobia.
For the past two years the government has officially acknowledged the transgender community with a moment of silence and flag raising held annually on November 20.
“I just want to make sure when I leave politics, this all continues,” she said.
DiNovo, who has been an activist in the LGBTQ+ community for years, said such legislation would be an international milestone, and an important one given the prevalence of transphobia worldwide.
According to DiNovo, 97 per cent of transgender youth face some kind of bullying and 25 per cent experience some kind of sexual assault.
“They are the most oppressed minority,” DiNovo said.
“Last year was the worst year for trans murders in the U.S.A, and we just had a death of a trans person in Toronto. This is about life or death.”
From abuse to murder, the transgender community faces danger almost daily, according to DiNovo. She believes educating the public is the only way to stop ongoing abuse.
“It’s something that should be happening in the community just like the gay straight alliance,” she says.
“When we introduced the bill, we had a couple of kids who were brave enough to come out as trans.
“Gender is in your brain, not in your genitals and scientists have known this for a long time. Everyone needs to become aware of this.”
DiNovo wants the same treatment and sensitivity towards transgender people that has been afforded to other members of the LGBTQ+ community.
“If we hear comments, confront the person,” she said. “If we see abuse, we should engage and report it. Just like it’s everyone’s responsibility to deal with homophobia, it is our responsibility to deal with transphobia.”
Simone Barnaby, Resource and Events Assistant at Lakeshore’s LGBTQ+ Resource Centre, said she supports DiNovo’s bill.
“After going over DiNovo’s Trans Day of Remembrance bill, I agree that ensuring that the future government observes TDOR as an integral step in ensuring trans folk’s visibility and memorializing the lives lost to transphobia.”
Barnaby says there are two global trans-specific observances; Transgender Day of Remembrance and Transgender Day of Visibility.
“If trans folk across the globe were not targeted by bigotry and violence, there would be no need for Trans Day of Remembrance,” Barnaby said. “As an ally, I would like to see the day that all trans folks can live safely without fear of prejudice and transphobia.”
According to Barnaby, it is quite important that the transgender community has an opportunity to both grieve the lives lost but also be empowered by their resilience.
“As a minority within a sexual minority, trans folk face oppression both within and outside the community. I agree with DiNovo and hope to see other politicians speak about this issue.”
DiNovo’s last day as an NDP MPP member will be January 1, she will return to become a minister at Trinity St. Paul’s Centre for Faith.
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