Transgender Day of Remembrance events start tomorrow

Transgender Day of Remembrance, a time to remember those killed because of transphobia, is Nov. 20. Several events will be happening at York starting tomorrow.

The event takes place in November to honour the Nov. 28 murder of Rita Hester in 1998, after which the Remembering Our Dead web project was started and a candlelight vigil was held annually in San Francisco.

“The day is important to raise awareness about the tremendous violence and oppression experienced by trans people every day through direct, vicious acts of violence and through day-to-day acts of transphobia, such as when people don’t respect a person’s chosen name or pronoun,” says Kristina Osborne, senior advisor, education & communications at York’s Centre for Human Rights.

“This day gives us the opportunity to formally acknowledge the dishonouring and devastating impacts of heterosexism and rigid gender construction on all of us, but most significantly on trans and other gender-diverse people.”

A round table on ‘Trans Organizing in University Settings’
Thursday Nov. 18, 12-2pm
Vanier Senior Common Room, 010 Vanier College, Keele campus.

York alumna Trish Salah (PhD ’09), Syrus Ware, Savannah Garmon and Ruth Bramham will discuss their experiences, work and thoughts on what trans activism does and has looked like on university campuses. Salah, a Montreal-based writer and teacher at the Simone de Beauvoir Institute at Concordia University and in the Department of Sociology at Bishop’s University, will speak about her experience organizing with the Trans Feminist Action Caucus with Canadian Union of Public Employees Local 3903, and the work she has done in creating policy to protect trans union members and create the Trans Fund Committee. She is the author of the poetry collection Wanting in Arabic (TSAR Publication, 2002).

Ware, a black, gay and transgendered visual artist and educator, will talk about his experience working at the Centre for Women & Trans People at the University of Toronto and transitioning there before the centre had transitioned. He is program co-ordinator of the Teens Behind the Scenes program at the Art Gallery of Ontario and the author of the study Assessing the HIV/AIDS Service Needs of Trans Communities in Toronto, published by the AIDS Committee of Toronto in 2004.

Bramham will discuss her experience as a longtime York employee and trans activist. She is currently working to raise the issues of discrimination and ostracism that occur in some congregations of the United Church. Her goal is to have the church formally recognize trans people, just as the church recognized and embraced gays and lesbians in 1988.

Garmon, a post doctoral researcher in the Chemical Physics Theory Group at the University of Toronto, will talk about her experience negotiating many different campuses as a trans woman, as well as the need for unity and solidarity amongst trans activists. She is also a writer and activist working on various social and political justice issues.

Following the panel, there will be a moderated discussion on the current state of trans organizing on campus and how to continue advancing struggles of trans people.

Lunch and crafting
Thursday Nov. 18, 2-4pm
Room 322 in the Student Centre, Keele campus
Come help make flags for the trans day of remembrance vigil.

Trans Day of Remembrance vigil
Thursday Nov. 18, 4:30pm
Outside Vari Hall

Join in a vigil in memory of Rita Hester and other trans people who have died as a result of violence. The names of those who were killed by transphobic violence will be read, stories of transphobia submitted to the Centre for Women & Trans People by those in the community will be shared and there will be an open mic where people can share experiences, thoughts and feelings.

In addition to commemorating these murders and other acts of violence against trans people, people can make a further commitment to fighting transphobia on campus by signing up for a trans 101 training session offered by the Centre for Women & Trans People, or by joining the Trans Ally Committee or Trans Committee to help advocate for more rights and recognition for Trans people at York.

For more information about any of the above events, or for tokens or childcare subsidies call 416-736-2100 ext. 33484 or e-mail the Centre for Women & Trans People at

Movie Night and discussion – Paradise Bent: Boys Will be Girls in Samoa
Thursday, Nov. 25, 6:30pm
Nat Taylor Cinema

When it comes to gender, there is truly a Samoan way of seeing the world. Paradise Bent tells the story of the Samoan fa’afafines, boys who are raised as girls. Fa’afafines play an important domestic role in the Samoan culture. Their traditional role is now under threat as the western drag scene filters into Samoa. Through the main character, Cindy, we see the complexities of life facing the modern day fa’afafines.

For more information, call 416-736-5682 or email

The Trans Day of Remembrance events are a collaboration between the Centre for Women & Trans People, the Sexual Assault Survivor’s Support Line, the Trans Bisexual Lesbian Gays Allies at York and the Centre for Human Rights.