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Trans Day of Remembrance – November 20th

Posted on November 20th, 2014

trans day of Remembrance

Thinking of you.

Today is November 20th. It is International Children’s Day, which is well-known. Less well known is the fact that it is also Trans Day of Remembrance.

Last Thursday, I went to a Professional Development workshop on Safer and Inclusive Schools, regarding the LGBTQ community in our education system.

It was a fascinating day, led by an incredibly well-spoken guy from the Canada Humans Rights Trust organization Egale. This facilitator, as a gay man who is also black, had a unique perspective on otherness and marginalization. We, as teachers and administrators in both elementary and secondary schools, learned a lot, discussed a lot, and asked all the questions we had time for. Many new thoughts were provoked, for all of us.

Although LGBTQ rights and equity have come a long way in Canada in recent years, there is still a long way to go, especially regarding transgender and transsexual individuals, and gender non-conformism overall.

Our facilitator agreed, it’s a very complex topic to talk about, and unfortunately I’m not able to elaborate in this post on all the discussion we had.

For now, just try to imagine what it would feel like to know you were in the wrong body. Not just to feel different from the people around you, but to know that the gender you had been assigned since birth was not yours.

People in this situation are often forced to hide their true selves, because they don’t have safe environments to be who they are. And even those who are able to live in a manner consistent with their personal gender identity often end up dealing with discrimination and violence. Lives are lost every year in the trans community because of this.

If you’d like to learn more about issues facing transgender and transsexual people, please take a look at this list of Must-Read Trans Blogs at bilerico.com. I am also looking forward to reading the books that were recommended to us:

Beyond Magenta by Susan Kuklin

beyond-magenta

Beyond Magenta

Beautiful Music for Ugly Children by Kirsten Cronn-Mills

beautiful music for ugly children book cover

Beautiful Music for Ugly Children

For today, I’m going to try to figure out a way to at least introduce this topic with my Grade 5-6 class – enough that, just in case any of my students might be fundamentally different from how I am seeing them, they’ll know there’s someone at school they can talk to.

gender identity

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5 Responses to “Trans Day of Remembrance – November 20th”

  1. Erin T
    20 November, 2014 at 3:02 pm

    Having formerly worked for a LGBTQ Health program, I always light a candle on Nov. 20th, and occasionally attend the Remembrance event at Buddies (in Bad Times Theatre/club, in Toronto). It’s very sobering to think what my trans friends have all been through, as well as how dangerous it is to identify as LGBTQ in other parts of the world. Things *have* changed tremendously in North America and West Europe in the last several decades, but it’s still rare to encounter either a trans person OR an adult gay male who hasn’t been physically threatened and/or beaten up for their sexuality or gender presentation at some time in their life. (I know both my brother and his husband were attacked as teens at school, in Ontario and Nove Scotia.) I was just present this afternoon at a transphobic conversation over lunch — **in a health care centre**. Agreed, there’s definitely still work to be done, and I’m glad they provided this workshop through your Board.

    • dilovelyadmin
      20 November, 2014 at 9:51 pm

      I’m glad too, Erin. I feel like I have so much to learn, because whatever my sympathies are, it’s still so easy for me, being white, straight, a born Canadian, able-bodied, etc. These conversations – about belonging and otherness and what that truly feels like – don’t just happen on their own very often, so I’m really grateful for opportunities to ASK. And as much as Canada still needs to progress, sometimes I can hardly believe how much further behind that most of the world is.

  2. Auntie CL
    20 November, 2014 at 5:57 pm

    It is wonderful to know that your school board has engaged an Egale workshop facilitator, and that these topics are being addressed with teachers, who have such an enormous influence on children. A great deal of prejudice has been taught in schools; teaching understanding and inclusiveness is a great step forward. Hooray for your DSB!
    I still have not found a way to truly understand how “difference” translates to “deserving of fear and loathing – and attack” in so much of society. It is good, i think, that we at least have public celebrations to bring the topics into the forefront. Considering the enormous strides made in the western/northern hemispheres in just a few years, it looks to me that there is hope…
    Thanks for this post.

    • dilovelyadmin
      20 November, 2014 at 10:14 pm

      Thanks for reading, Auntie. Interestingly, there have been at least four sessions of this workshop held in our board this year alone – it’s a very popular one. I will say that out of at least 25 registrants that day, there were only 2 men (besides the facilitator) and some came from rural schools where the prejudice they described – from the parents even more than from the students – was shocking. But I figure people in those areas can’t stick in the mud forever. We’ll all just keep on trying.

      I also theorize that certain people don’t think hard enough to come to the conclusion that different = deserving of loathing/attack… I think they just feel the fear, and attack without much thought. I certainly do understand that, as humans, we are naturally wary, or even fearful, of difference, when we feel we don’t understand. It’s just that, in this day and age, with the amount of free self-education available, we should be past that stage. We need to grow up. If we, as a species, can do things like take pictures on Mars and transplant a human heart, we should be able to resist the urge to attack everything that might make us nervous or uncomfortable.

  3. Krista
    20 November, 2014 at 11:34 pm

    I love that you’re going to bring this up with your students. My class and I have had great discussions this week. One of my students did some fundraising for the Cancer Society and on Tuesday she had her head shaved in front of the whole school. As the hair came off, one of our little girls in kindergarten announced, “Now she’s a boy!” (Ironically this student has very short hair herself.) She and I had a chat (in 5 year old terms) about how hair length doesn’t define our gender and the next day, my grade 4s and I talked about why our SK friend might have said that. We talked about things (colours, activities, jobs, roles, etc.) that some people might think of as “girl” things or “boy” things and we read a wonderful book called “My Princess Boy” about a little boy who likes to wear dresses and tiaras. It was a great conversation about people being who they are, and liking what they like, and that being okay.

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This entry was posted on Thursday, November 20th, 2014 at 12:22 pm and is filed under Politethics. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

 
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