Reflections on Transgender Day of Remembrance


Photo: Guest speakers Sydney Lawson and Chevi Rabbit (photo by Teagan Welch). Illustration by UBCO Creative Studies professor Tannis Nielsen.

Article written by Teagan Welch: UBC Okanagan Equity Ambassador and International Relations Student.

The Transgender Day of Remembrance (TDOR) ceremony held at UBC Okanagan on November 20 was an incredibly beautiful, yet unshakably tragic celebration of lives, both lived and lost. I had the opportunity to attend TDOR through my volunteer role as an Equity Ambassador with the Equity and Inclusion Office.

Students, staff, and Okanagan residents alike gathered for the ceremony and candle light vigil on campus in honour of transgender individuals whose lives were lost to senseless acts of gender identity based violence. As we listened to name after name of transgender folks from around the world who were taken from it too soon and our hearts cracked open with each name, it became apparent that this was not just a room full of individuals, but a community gathered in solidarity and support. Regardless of beliefs, or of gender identity, we honoured the dead but celebrated the living.

Too often transgender folks are only put in the limelight under tragic circumstances. On that day we celebrated the life, excellence, and success, of the transgender community through sharing experiences, poetry, and heartfelt oration.

The popular hashtag #translivesmatter has brought new significance to folks young and old as we reflected on the glimmering hope of an inequality free future. There is a lot of work to be done to eliminate transphobia in our world and even our community, but events like TDoR and Hate to Hope remind us that even somber moments of silence can be reflective of change and acceptance.

It would be difficult to find anyone in the room whose heart wasn’t full that evening. Thank you to Sydney Lawson, Chevi Rabbit, Okanagan Pride, the UBCSUO Pride Centre, and the Equity and Inclusion Office for putting on this amazing event and reminding us of the importance of remembrance and celebrating differences through unity.