This article contains mention of transphobic violence.
On Saturday afternoon UBC students hosted a Cairn-painting event to commemorate Transgender Day of Remembrance.
Transgender Day of Remembrance (TDOR,) which honours those who have lost their lives from anti-transgender violence, is held annually on November 20.
Over a dozen students, most of which were members of Gears & Queers — a 2SLGBTQIA+ engineering club — came out to mark the occasion. The students took turns painting a large candle on the Cairn.
Ana Bandari is one of two co-presidents of Gears & Queers, a club for 2SLGBTQIA+ engineers and allies, and helped lead and organize the event. She is in her second year of electrical engineering.
“When I first came to UBC, I did not personally know that [TDOR]... existed,” Bandari said. “[Transgender people have] been underrepresented within the Queer community for a long time. They deserve recognition and awareness for all the lives that were lost and their contributions to… the Queer movement.”
Earlier this week, someone anonymously painted the Cairn in the light blue, pink and white of the Transgender flag, which Saturday's painters used as a backdrop for their candle design. This may be in response to previous years when the Cairn was painted with a design that incorporated the rainbow 2SLGBTQIA+ pride flag, with less of an emphasis on the Trans-specific flag.
“This meant a lot to [the Trans community],” Bandari said, “It was very important to them to have it painted as the [Transgender] flag and not have it painted over as the general [pride] flag.”
Instead, this year the leaders of Gears and Queers want to make sure the spotlight is on the Trans community and the unique challenges that Trans people face.
Trans people in Canada experience higher levels of violence compared to cisgender Canadians. Furthermore, Trans people of colour are more likely to experience multiple and intersecting levels of discrimination.
TDOR is held at the end of Transgender Awareness Week, an annual event that aims to increase visibility of the prejudice faced by transgender people.
The first TDOR was held in 1999 in remembrance of Rita Hester, a prominent Black Trans educator who had been murdered in the previous year. The day is now a chance to remember and mourn Transgender lives lost to violence each year, and to celebrate the community's resilience.
Gears & Queers can be reached through their Instagram page @gears.and.queers
Trans Lifeline — phone number staffed by Trans people to provide support to Trans, and gender-questioning peers. 877.330.6366. translifeline.org/hotline/
Four Feathers Society — Indigenous-run society bringing the LGBTQ+ and Two-Spirit community together fourfeathers.net.