“It is wishing and hoping for a future in which commemorating the day is not as necessary because queer people are free to be as they are,” said Elena Carter, Catalyst Mt. A’s External Operations Chair. November 20 marks Transgender Day of Remembrance, a day to remember gender-diverse individuals who have experienced transphobia in their communities and those who have unfortunately lost their lives. Transgender Day of Remembrance began in 1999 after the murders of Rita Hester and Chenelle Pickett, two Black transgender women.
I sat down with Carter and Phoebe Crook, both members of Catalyst Mt. A and members of the 2SLGBTQ+ community, to hear about what Transgender Day of Remembrance means to them. Firstly, when asked what the importance of the day was, Carter responded by explaining the importance of the day to those in the community. She said with the increase in trans visibility over the past decade there have been numerous positive impacts on people, allowing them to see themselves in the media and providing support. However, “with this increased visibility comes increased vitriolic rhetoric, increased violence, and hate crimes,” Carter explained, noting that “2021 was the most deadly year to be a trans person in the world.” Further, she elaborated on some of the more insidious ways transphobia is widespread, explaining how many political campaigns are targeting the community, for example, bathroom bans. “Your rights, your safety, [and] your decency are being debated,” said Carter. Moreover, we discussed the omnipresent impacts that transphobia can have on trans folk, specifically youth. Then, Crook said the day meant acknowledging the pain and suffering of many gender-diverse individuals and reflecting on personal experiences.
When thinking more broadly about what society can do to prevent transphobia both Carter and Crook offered many great ideas. We mentioned the Mt. A community specifically, and both noted the ways the university is excelling in promoting a safe gender-diverse space, bearing in mind there is still room for more improvement. “I think that as more politicians become more vitriolic […] the school community [should make] a statement saying they disavow this message to make trans lives safer,” Carter said. Then, she discussed the event at the beginning of the school year when the Canadian Conservative Party of Canada promoted the exclusion of transgender individuals in single sex spaces, like bathrooms. Carter explained that Mt. A should release a statement saying transgender people could use the bathroom they identified with to demonstrate their support. Subsequently, Crook explained how it would be difficult to determine specific solutions to this problem saying that “it is part of a larger systematic issue of hatred, discrimination, and indoctrination, baked into our society.”
Carter concluded the interview by saying that Transgender Day of Remembrance was a day to remember the trans people that have been lost due to violence, both direct violence from others and self-inflicted violence. “It is wishing and hoping for a future in which commemorating the day isn’t as necessary because queer people are free to be as they are,” Carter said.
Many supports are available for members of the 2SLGBTQ+ community, and those who would consider themselves allies. In particular, Catalyst Mt. A is a great support and advocacy group for the Mt. A community. Readers of The Argosy can reach out to @catalyst_mta on Instagram, @Catalyst_MTA on Twitter and @mtacatalyst on Facebook for more information.