Members of the Dalhousie Queer Faculty and Staff Caucus hosted their first-ever community roundtable session to commemorate the Transgender Day of Remembrance (TDOR) last Wednesday (Nov. 20).
Gwendolyn Ann Smith, a trans writer and activist, founded TDOR in 1999 as a means to honour murdered trans people and highlight the violence experienced by the trans community in Boston. Since then, TDOR has been an annual event commemorated across the world.
In her opening remarks at the roundtable, Dr. Theresa Rajack-Talley, Dal’s vice-president of equity and inclusion, expressed the importance of the event.
“Each year, we need to take this day to pause, breathe and reflect on those who have been killed as a result of transphobia, the hatred or fear of transgender and gender non-conforming people,” she said.
“Dal is committed to ensuring a living, learning, and working environment where Two Spirit, transgender, gender non-conforming, gender variant people and all of our diverse university community members can fully participate and not be excluded or attacked based on their identities, expressions, perspectives, skin color or cultures,” she added.
Celebration and freedom
One of the participants at the discussion spoke on the importance of not only remembering those who have died but also celebrating being trans. The person said, “while there’s a lot of negativity, there’s a lot of freedom to be who you want to be.”
Despite the challenges they face, a lot of the trans people present reiterated this statement: “It is okay to be you.”
Some of the people at the discussion emphasized the need for trans people and groups to form active networks and communities to support each other, share information and promote efforts to advocate for issues affecting trans people.
Some suggested ways Dal could do more to promote inclusion of trans, non-binary, and gender-queer people. These included improving support for trans staff, faculty, and students, developing core-curriculum focused on educating students on gender topics, and including members from various communities in policy-making committees.
One of the participants encouraged cis-gendered people to support the cause of trans people.
“Being an ally is a form of activism,” she said. “The government cannot ignore us when cis people join hands with trans people.”
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