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Torontonians mourn lives lost on Trans Day of Remembrance

‘Until there are no deaths due to transphobia, we will commemorate every single year,’ NDP MPP Cheri DiNovo says

Toronto Mayor John Tory issues a proclamation for Trans Day of Remembrance at city hall on Nov 20, 2017. Credit: Nick Lachance/Xtra

At a time when violence against trans people globally is reaching an all-time high, trans community members and politicians commemorated Trans Day of Remembrance in Toronto.

During two flag raisings on Nov 20, 2017, at Queen’s Park and at Toronto City Hall, speakers mourned the many people who have been lost due to transphobia.

“Let us remember that thousands of trans folk around the world died last year,” Cheri DiNovo, NDP MPP for Parkdale-High Park said in front of the Ontario legislature. “They died at the hands of others, they died of internalized transphobia.”

DiNovo, who will be leaving the legislature at the end of the year, has sponsored a bill that would permanently proclaim Nov 20 as Trans Day of Remembrance in Ontario and would make sure that the flag raising takes place every year. The bill will go to second reading on Nov 30, 2017.

“Until there are no deaths due to transphobia, we will commemorate every single year,” she said.

At city hall, Toronto Mayor John Tory issued a proclamation for Trans Day of Remembrance, something he has done every year of his mayoralty.

Trans Day of Remembrance was particularly poignant for many community members this year. Alloura Wells, a 27-year-old trans woman, has been missing since July. And in August, the body of a trans woman was found in the Rosedale ravine. Police have not yet been able to confirm the identity of the woman.

At a vigil on Nov 19 for the woman found in the ravine, Monica Forrester, a trans and sex worker’s rights advocate, also noted that at least three Toronto trans women have died this year in the opiate epidemic.

Max Denley speaks at the trans flag raising at Toronto City Hall on Nov 20, 2017. Credit: Nick Lachance/Xtra

At the flag raising at city hall, Max Denley of the organization Get Real noted how central Trans Day of Remembrance is for remembering the lives lost due to transphobia.

“I spent last year’s Trans Day of Remembrance with a heartbroken grandmother who had just lost her beautiful trans granddaughter,” Denley said.

“And it really made me start to think and realize about how much I connected with this person and this family, who I’d never met before. And it really made me realize that, that could be any one of us.”