‘We cannot forget the history of what this day means:’ TMU hosts Trans-Day of Remembrance event

20 November 2023 / by Met Radio

Today marks the 24th annual Trans Day of Remembrance (TDoR) with Toronto Metropolitan University (TMU) holding an event on campus.

Organized by Gwendolyn Ann Smith in 1999, TDoR was created as a day to acknowledge those who lost their lives due to anti-trans violence. TDoR came as a way to acknowledge the death of Rita Hester, a black trans woman, who was stabbed in her apartment in 1998.

As reported by Transgender Europe’s Trans Murder Monitoring update, this year 321 trans and gender diverse people were reported murdered. This is down from last years 327. In Canada they reported only two deaths from murder.

“You can log into the internet for one day and witness enough of that to believe that that’s what defines our existence,” says T, a fourth year student at TMU and program and outreach lead for the Toronto Metropolitan University Student Union Trans Collective, due to safety concerns their last name has been omitted. “That being said, alongside all the positive changes, all those statements of affirmation that we hear today, we cannot forget the history of what this day means to the trans community.”

At TMU, they held a TDoR event at the Student Learning Centre on campus for students, faculty and staff. At the service, they reflected on the past year on what was “learned, and look forward to what’s to come.”

“Inclusion isn’t just about being nice and inclusive isn’t just about an action, but it is indeed about saving lives,” says Dr. Tanya De Mello, Vice-President of Equity and Community Inclusion at TMU. “I think about that, especially on this day, and about what it was like to see an incredible trans woman thrive and lead in our community, and now do incredible things outside but be so proud to come back to a place where she did feel safe, and she did feel good. And I do think that’s the work of our offices.”

At the event, the winner of the Displaying Pride graphic design contest was announced. Emma Birtles, a first year undeclared arts student, is the winner of the contest, with Karen Ngo and Ciel Bend-Adi as the two runners ups. The winner and runners up are all first year students at TMU. They will have their design used for posters and stickers across the TMU campus. In addition they have also won $200.

The winning design features two astronauts staring off into a colourful space with planets and a multi-colour nebula. In their artist statement, Britles says they wanted to incorporate as many flags as possible. To do so they used the colour schemes of flags to fill in the planets.

“The light source in the centre that the space nomads are facing represents the bright future ahead of us, even in the dark and cold space we may travel through at times,” says Britles. “With the space explorers, I hope to show companionship and comfort to let those seeing it know that they are not alone in the vast universe we all inhabit.”

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