Recognizing Trans Day of Remembrance at the University of Toronto

For over two decades, Trans Day of Remembrance (TDoR) has been observed annually on November 20. What began as a small vigil honouring Rita Hester, a transgender woman of colour brutally murdered in Boston, MA in 1998, is now an annual day of recognition observed in Canada, among other countries worldwide. November 20 has become a day to remember and honour all trans and nonbinary individuals who, in the words of trans advocate Gwendolyn Ann Smith, have been “murdered for simply being themselves.”

Data gathered from trans youth and adults confirms the prevalence of transphobic violence and harassment in Canada. Thirty-five percent of trans and nonbinary youth respondents to the most recent Canadian Trans and Nonbinary Youth Health Survey (2019) reported being physically threatened or injured within the year. Twenty percent of participants in the Ontario-based Trans PULSE Project (2006, 2009-10) reported transphobic assaults, with 34% reporting verbal threats and harassment. The 2019 Trans PULSE Canada Survey highlighted the compounding impact of discrimination for respondents who identified as Black, Indigenous, and racialized: consistently, they reported higher rates of violence, assault, and harassment as well as more negative experiences within the Canadian legal system.

The University of Toronto denounces transphobia, whether expressed as hate crimes, interpersonal discrimination, or structural barriers. On an institutional level, we continue to make our systems and spaces more inclusive to trans members of our community. Students, faculty, librarians, and staff can make name and/or gender changes in University records, and we are implementing additional changes to our identity management systems. In an ongoing tri-campus effort, our campus maps tool features information about inclusive washrooms on all campuses. The event More Than Pronouns: A Dialogue on Trans-Inclusion in the Workplace—recorded and available on the Sexual and Gender Diversity Office website—complements resources such as Your Journey: A Career Guide for Trans and Nonbinary Students, which aims to support trans and nonbinary students and recent alumni as they think about work and careers. All of us in the U of T community have the right to feel accepted for “simply being ourselves.” What is more, we all have a responsibility to make belonging part of everyone’s experience of our campuses.

I invite students, staff, faculty, and librarians to honour Trans Day of Remembrance by attending U of T’s Trans Day of Remembrance & Resilience virtual event at 1 pm on Friday, November 19, 2021. I also encourage you to take part in the Trans Awareness Week programming from November 15 to 19, led by the Sexual & Gender Diversity Office in collaboration with a number of departments, groups, and organizations across the tri-campus.

To learn more about resources available to the University community, please visit the websites of the Sexual & Gender Diversity Office and Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion Offices at UTM and UTSC.

Resources & Supports

The following resources and supports are also available to the U of T community:

Sexual Violence Prevention & Support Centre: The Sexual Violence Prevention and Support Centre provides support to students, staff, and faculty at the University of Toronto who have been affected by sexual and gender-based violence.

Community Safety Office: Staff are available to provide support to students, staff, faculty, librarians, and community members.

If you are a student who needs immediate support, please call the Health & Wellness Centre at (416) 978-8030 to speak with a counsellor. Counselling is also available through the U of T My Student Support Program (U of T My SSP) 24/7 by calling 1 (844) 451-9700.

Staff and faculty members can access mental health resources and supports through the Employee & Family Assistance Program (EFAP). The 24/7 helpline at 1-800-663-1142 provides support for those experiencing grief, stress, and trauma.