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, for Transgender Day of Remembrance, was held Saturday to reflect and mourn transgender, non-binary and two-spirit people who have been murdered this year and in past.
Speakers at the ceremony said more than 400 people around the world were murdered this year because of transphobia and there’s a lot of work to do.
“We know that the pandemic has increased gender-based violence both in rates and severity and we know that trans gender, gender diverse folks, two-spirit folks are disproportionately targeted with gender-based violence,” said Grace Lore, Parliamentary Secretary for Gender Equality. “There is still a lot of work to do.”
Executive director of the Victoria Sexual Assault Centre (VSAC) Elijah Zimmerman said one in two transgender people will experience sexualized violence in their lifetime.
He said governments addressing various needs will help transgender people in Canada.
“We can act with love and justice now for trans lives by addressing access to housing, health care, education and employment,” said Zimmerman. “We can encourage all our communities to gain education to respect gender diversity.”
Zimmerman told the story of the origins of the ceremony in 1998 where transgender woman Rita Hester was murdered in Allston, Massachusets. The following year in 1999, the first ceremony was done to honour her memory.
B.C. Premier John Horgan said in a statement Saturday his government is committed to making B.C. a safe and welcoming place for trans people in the future.
“Nothing we do or say today can bring back the more than 400 people who were murdered this year for simply being who they are,” said the Premier. “But we can do our part to end transphobic violence and make our province a safe place for trans people to be themselves in every part of their lives.”