Maybe you noticed the bit of colour currently flying over the old Fire Hall on Main Street today. I am very pleased to announce that for the first time ever, the City of Airdrie will recognize Transgender Day of Remembrance as well as fly the Transgender flag in our city throughout Transgender Awareness week.
As a transgender woman who has called Airdrie home for over 13 years, I am beyond proud of our City Council for unanimously choosing to recognize this incredibly important day. By recognizing this and days such as this for the LGBTQ2+ community, we can continually make Airdrie an open, inclusive and accepting community. We can make it more comfortable, supportive and most importantly, safer for everyone that calls it home.
Given that this may be new for many people, I wanted to include some background on what this week and Day of Remembrance are all about.
What is Transgender Awareness Week?
Transgender Awareness Week (November 14-20) is a time for transgender people and their allies to take action and bring attention to the community by educating the public and advancing advocacy around the issues of prejudice, discrimination, and violence that transgender people face. The final day of Transgender Awareness Week is Transgender Day of Remembrance (TDOR), an annual observance on November 20 that honors the memory of those whose lives were lost in acts of anti-transgender violence.
What is Transgender Day of Remembrance?
TDOR was started by transgender advocate Gwendolyn Ann Smith as a vigil to honor her memory of Rita Hester, a transgender woman who was killed in 1998. The vigil commemorated all the transgender people lost to violence that year and began an important memorial that has become the annual Transgender Day of Remembrance.
Why is this important in Airdrie?
Airdrie is the home of many transgender individuals. It is important to take a day to recognize the 295 people in this world that lost their lives in this year (between October 2015 and September 2016) due to anti-transgender violence. They were murdered for simply trying to live their authentic lives.
It is easy to quickly fall into the “this doesn’t happen here” mentality. While I recognize that many positives steps have been taken in our Country and Province, there is still much work to do. A 2017 study on the Health of Transgender Youth in Alberta has quantified these challenges, and they are heartbreaking. I have included the summary findings and would ask that you read and appreciate that these are not statistics from some other country. This is Canada. This is Alberta. This is our home and these are our kids. It is painfully clear that we need to change their stories and help them flourish as the amazing kids they are meant to be.
I commend the City and Council for helping and taking this step to support such an incredibly important week and day.
Kristopher Wells – 2017 University of Alberta Study On Transgender Youth in Alberta
- Key findings
- Safety, violence, and discrimination are major issues for trans youth in Alberta, with three quarters of youth under 18 reporting discrimination of their lived gender;
- Over 80% of younger trans youth reported their family did not understand them or only understood them a little;
- 70% of Trans Youth reported experiences of sexual harassment
- 73% Reported self harming behaviours
- 67% of younger trans youth (14-18) had seriously considered suicide – 41% making at least one attempt
- 62% of younger trans youth not able to access mental health services – most common reason is that they didn’t want their parents to know (91%)
- 50% of older trans youth (19-25) have been the target of cyber bullying and hateful online comments;
- In the past year, 35% of younger trans youth (14-18) have been physically threatened or injured
- 32% of younger trans youth reported running away from home.