Each year on November 20 we mark the Transgender Day of Remembrance, to honour those killed as a result of anti-trans hatred or prejudice and to bring attention to continued transphobic violence and discrimination in our communities.
Each year, since 1999, we look at the names, faces, and stories of those killed. Sadly, despite increased trans visibility, the statistics remain shocking.
In 2015, worldwide, a transgender person was murdered every 31 hours. In Canada, the trans community has one of the highest suicide rates in our population, over 10 percent of trans Canadians have attempted suicide. Trans people also experience high levels of violence in communities and the workplace, including sexual, emotional, and physical harassment.
We all have a role to play to support fairness, equality and freedom from violence for trans people in our workplaces and communities.
Ensuring respect and fair treatment for trans workers is a key priority for Canada’s unions today. Already, many unions have made gains for trans members by bargaining for access to safe washrooms and change rooms and for the right to be referred to by one’s chosen gender.
Recently the Canadian Labour Congress released a practical guide for union representatives to support trans union members in the workplace before, during, and after gender transition. This year, we welcomed the federal government’s announcement that they are appointing a Special Advisor on LGBTQ2 issues.
On Friday, the government passed Bill C-16, An Act to amend the Canadian Human Rights Act and the Criminal Code to add gender identity and gender expression to the list of prohibited grounds of discrimination. Unions supported previous legislation to protect trans people from discrimination and hate crimes. Now, with C-16 headed to the Senate, we are hopeful that these long overdue protections are close to becoming a reality.