Commentary: Stop killing us

In the wake of Trump’s attempt to erase trans rights in America, days like the Transgender Day of Remembrance (TDOR) have been dominating my thoughts as a trans and non-binary person. Because of that, I thought it was especially important to participate in the coffeehouse and silent auction TDOR fundraiser hosted by the Fredericton Gender Minority Group (FGMG) at the Abbey Gallery on Oct. 25.

When I arrived with ukulele in hand, I immediately understood the venue choice. It was cozy and hidden away in the basement of the CiderHouse. For many people who are LGBTQ, hiding is not only a comfort, but a necessity for their safety.

While mingling with the other participants, I was relieved to hear others shared my vehement persistence that TDOR is still relevant. Fellow St. Thomas University student Sara Nason commented on the bubble of acceptance which exists at STU.

“I feel a lot of people sort of begin to envision the idea that the whole world is a lot like STU, in which, there’s a lot of support for the trans and queer community. And unfortunately, as we know, especially in certain areas, trans people continue to face extreme harassment, discrimination and assault,” said Nason.

As a trans and non-binary individual, I have been on high alert since the New York Times leaked a memo from the White House. The memo suggested that Trump wants to legally define sex as “a biological, immutable condition determined by genitalia at birth.” This plan would define my community out of existence, legally. My American trans siblings could lose current federal civil rights protections in employment, education and access to health care. The loss of legal rights is terrifying, but I am more concerned about the social treatment of the trans community. Legislation like this only creates more hostility directed at the community.

This hostility is what creates the necessity for TDOR. Ceremonies for TDOR are dedicated to reading the names and ages of individuals lost to transphobia around the world. Many of the names are of those murdered and some are people who took their own lives due to transphobia.

Historically, Canada and the USA have the least names. But, with the political changes in America, I fear the lists will grow. Event organizer Indigo Poirier had similar concerns.

“I think it’s important to pay our respects to the people that have been lost, especially because a lot of the time those people don’t get a lot of attention. A lot of us, when this happens, people don’t always even refer to us by the proper name and pronouns in our obituaries or articles about us. And it’s to remind ourselves that we still have to fight for our rights and especially with everything that is going on in the states right now,” said Poirier.

With all the beautiful poetry, music and laughter at the fundraiser, it was easy to forget what we were raising money for. The money raised will rent a space for the TDOR ceremony hosted by the Fredericton Gender Minority Group on Nov. 20. I had to remind myself that in order to have these joyous events, we must also have solemn events like TDOR. Unfortunately, this is something all LGTBQ individuals must come to terms with, including Poirier.

“It can be really hard and exhausting to hear about a lot of negativity surrounding trans people, but in times like this I think it’s even more important to come together and honour the people who didn’t make it.”

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