Transgender Day of Remembrance is held annually to honour people killed in the past year due to anti-trans hatred or prejudice. Each year, the number of trans murders and assaults seems to grow. Just as tragically, the suicide rate amongst trans people in Canada is one of the highest: Over 10 percent of the total population of trans individuals have tried to commit suicide.
Trans people also experience high levels of violence in the workplace, including sexual, emotional, and physical harassment. This persistent level of violence is the most severe aspect of the many challenges and discrimination that trans people face in Canada every single day.
Canada’s labour movement has a long history of helping address this discrimination in workplaces, by providing support and resources to trans workers, promoting workplace safety and an end to harassment and violence, and supporting the call for legal protections for the trans community in Canada.
“The CLC is turning to the Prime Minister and his cabinet to immediately pass legislation that acknowledges the rights of trans people. Canada must add gender identity provisions to both the Criminal Code and the Canadian Human Rights Act; all Canadians need protection against discrimination and violence, especially those who are trans,” said CLC Executive Vice-President, Marie Clarke Walker.
So far, five provinces have added protection against discrimination based on gender identity to their human rights codes. Now it must become a federal reality. The Canadian Labour Congress has consistently supported bills to change federal legislation, but twice under the Conservatives, this legislation was stalled in the Senate.
“Legislation to protect trans people from discrimination and hate crimes has come close to being a reality twice in the past five years. The labour movement stands with trans activists who have been working hard for so long to have their rights recognized. We are counting on the new government to make this a reality,” said Walker.
Transgender Day of Remembrance began as a memorial vigil held in San Francisco, California in 1999 in memory of Rita Hester, an African American woman who was murdered because she was trans. To date, her murder remains unsolved.
Click here to learn more about the trans people who were killed in 2015.