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Trans memorial appears in Barbara Hall Park

Anonymous activists create chalk drawing during vigil for trans woman

The memorial, which appeared July 12, is meant to be a public space for people to record the names of trans people who have died. Credit: HG Watson

Anonymous members of Toronto’s trans community have erected a memorial to their fallen comrades in Barbara Hall Park (previously known as Cawthra Park).

A simple white chalk drawing of the international symbol of the trans community was drawn on the wall opposite the AIDS Memorial July 12. Beside the wall, a box of multicoloured chalk was left for people to add the names of trans people who have died.

According to Nicki Ward, organizer of Trans March Toronto 2014, many trans people lose their identities in death when their biological families claim their remains. “Not only do they reclaim the body, but they reclaim the name,” Ward says. “The vast majority of trans people who die are buried with the wrong name on their gravestone.”

The memorial provides a place for people to honour the true names of trans people who died too soon, Ward adds.

While its creators have chosen to remain anonymous so that the community will focus on the names of the deceased, the memorial appeared during a vigil for Veronica Diaz, a trans woman who died earlier this month. Though Ward believes the memorial was inspired partially by her death, she says it was a long time coming. “There are thousands of names that could be on that wall.”

The chalk drawings had been partially removed by July 16, but Ward tells Xtra that the same anonymous group will redraw the symbol. She hopes that eventually a permanent memorial for trans people will be erected in Toronto — the chalk wall is simply a beginning, she says.