A sombre day of remembrance was marked by the raising of the transgender flag and a moment of silence at the B.C. Legislature.
The ceremony, marking Transgender Day of Remembrance, was held Sunday to reflect and mourn transgender, non-binary and two-spirit people who have been murdered this year and in years past.
“The people we remember today were just trying to live their lives true to themselves,” said Aaron Devor, chair of Transgender Studies at the University of Victoria.
“Their lives were brutally taken from them. Their last moments were suffered in the face of rage and cruelty only because they didn’t do their gender the way someone else thought that they should.”
Speakers said at least 370 people around the world were murdered this year due to transphobia.
“We know that number is an understatement because so many of these acts of violence go unreported or misreported,” Grace Lore, parliamentary secretary for Gender Equality, told CHEK News.
She added another five people were killed and 25 others were injured in a shooting at a gay club in Colorado Springs Saturday night.
“This morning, waking up to that news on Transgender Day of Remembrance is a recent, raw reminder that hate kills. It’s devastating and the loss of life, the targeted violence because of who people are, is something we must stand up against today and every day,” Lore said.
Sunday’s ceremony included discussions on how transgender and nonbinary people face countless challenges every day.
Ace Mann with Victoria Pride Society said it’s a cultural and systemic problem many people don’t realize.
“It’s easier for people to say, ‘Oh, I love your dog. He’s so cute,'” Mann said.
“Then you say, ‘Oh, it’s she,’ and they’re like, ‘My apologies,’ and then they never misgender it again. Why can’t that be applied to people, and what is it about that misconception that can’t be transferred.”
The Province of B.C. said this is something it’s actively working on.
Earlier this year, the provincial government made it easier for people to correct their gender markers on their government-issued I.D.
“It’s important for people to be recognized by government as who they are and with dignity and respect,” Lore said.
“We’re also making changes to legislation to remove gender language so that everybody is reflected in the laws and regulations that govern our province.”
She added that there is still a lot of work to be done to ensure the transgender and nonbinary community feels safe and seen.
Minimizing the hateful rhetoric towards the community on social media and in conversations would help, as that sort of speech travels fast, according to Mann.
“This summer, I think it took about 48 hours between the time a senator from Texas, or a governmental official from Texas, said something about drag shows before we got a gun threat here in Victoria about ours,” Mann said.
They said a good step is to reflect and remember, calling it important to ensure historic violence doesn’t repeat itself.
“It’s important for other people, whether trans or not, visible or not, to be able to see that we remember and appreciate and they’re loved,” Mann explained.