Illustration by Sarah Krichel
Illustration: Sarah Krichel

Recognizing Trans Awareness Month

In Communities /

By Nicole Brumley

Ryerson’s Trans Awareness Month will begin on Wednesday with the trans flag being raised in the Quad outside Kerr Hall north.

This month will be dedicated to spreading knowledge and celebrating the visibility of the trans community on campus. Events organized by Positive Space Ryerson* will run until Nov. 27.

The flag will be lowered at half-mast on Nov. 20 in recognition of Trans Day of Remembrance to honour and mourn the lives of those lost to transphobic violence.

The trans flag was created by U.S. Navy veteran Monica Helms in 1999 to unite the community. The blue and pink stripes represent traditional gender colours for boys and girls, and the white stripe is symbolic of people who are transitioning or who do not identify with a binary gender.

The events will focus on educating and promoting advocacy about the issues transgender people face, including discrimination and violence.

According to a 2015 Trans PULSE report, 67 per cent of trans Ontarians feared they would die young to targeted violence, simply because of their identity. Black trans people are reportedly more likely to experience discrimination and physical violence because of the intersections of their race and gender.

Trans PULSE is a community-based research project in Ontario aimed at identifying problems in the trans community. Presently, Statistics Canada does not record the number of hate crimes against transgender people.

It was only this past June that Bill C-16 was passed to update the Canadian Human Rights and Criminal Code to add the terms “gender identity” and “gender expression.” The bill makes it illegal to discriminate based on gender identity and expression. It also made it a hate crime to target someone because they are transgender.

With the underrepresentation of these issues on a national front, advocating and raising awareness in smaller communities such as Ryerson is important.

While there has been some effort towards creating a more inclusive environment on campus, work still needs to be done. The Student Learning Centre, Ryerson’s newest building to date, does not have all-gender washrooms while the Student Campus Centre, which is managed separately from the university, has undergone renovations to add them. It begs the question of whether this inclusivity will be taken into consideration with new buildings on the way.

As we look ahead to these institutional changes, we can also create change by being allies for the transgender community. Here are six tips to keep in mind for being an ally even beyond Trans Awareness Month.

1. If someone says they’re trans, they are. Don’t comment on physical appearances, no matter what someone looks like. It’s not up to you to decide whether they ‘look trans enough’.

2. Don’t deadname people! They went through a lot of work to pick a name they like so the least you can do is use it.

3. Defend your trans friends even if they aren’t in the room. Don’t let other friends get away with transphobic violence just because no one trans is present.

4. Ask people for their pronouns: make this part of your ‘getting to know someone new’ routine.

5. Going out of your way to find pictures of someone pre-transition is gross and unnecessary.

6. Support your trans friends by being loud when they need help and being quiet when they need to be the only ones speaking.

With files from Sidney Drmay, former Communities editor

Correction: In a previous version of this article, The Eyeopener reported that the Office of Equity, Diversity and Inclusion will run events until Nov. 27. However, Positive Space Ryerson will be organizing the events until Nov. 27. The Eyeopener regrets this error.

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