A 24-hour vigil in Central Memorial Park on Transgender Remembrance Day honoured those who lost their lives over the years.
Organizers of the event in Calgary’s Beltline, which took place throughout Monday, say it’s a day filled with emotions, stories and reflection.
Victoria Bucholtz, a prominent drag queen and comedian in Calgary, put together the vigil with Queer Citizens United.
“I grew up outside Edmonton during the ‘80s and ‘90s,” explained Bucholtz. “In Alberta there was no trans representation. I didn’t hear the word transgender until my twenties, and it was this lightning bolt moment of ‘oh, that’s what all these feelings meant.’”
Transgender Remembrance Day started in 1999 to honour the memory of Rita Hester, a Black trans woman from Massachusetts who was killed in her home.
Since then, ceremonies have been held across the world to mourn all those who have lost their lives due to Transphobic violence.
Trans woman and activist Marissa Taylor says she cherishes days like this and implores people to get educated about what the LGBTQ2S+ community endures.
“I was told once by a doctor here that I am a caveman,” said Taylor. “It takes a lot of courage for anyone to live their authentic selves. And then, to have that sort of hatred towards you for a characteristic that you can’t change, that you were born with.”
She says the day is a reminder to simply be kind and remember that we are all human.
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“I think it’s beautiful. We all come from diverse backgrounds, and we should all be celebrated, valued, admired and loved.”
According to Statistics Canada, the number of people who identify as Transgender or non-binary in Alberta is above the national average. From the census data collected in 2021, that number exceeds 12,400 Albertans.
But, according to studies, transgender Canadians are far more likely to experience violence in their life than cisgendered Canadians.
“It’s a scary time for the transgender community,” said Bucholtz. “Every year since the inception of this day, we’ve seen higher numbers of violence towards Trans people.”
The vigil for Transgender Remembrance Day at Central Memorial Park was scheduled to burn until midnight. Mayor Jyoti Gondek, alongside other dignitaries and members of the Queer community, were expected to participate early Monday evening.
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