Report to New Westminster City Council

Transgender Day of Rememberence 2018

Image description: burning tea lights. Source: unsplash.


Mr Mayor, councillors, my name is Hailey Heartless. I have been a resident of this city for 10 years.

I also sit on the board of directors at PACE Society, a nonprofit in Vancouver's downtown eastside that offers programming and support to some of the regions most vulnerable sex workers.

PACE Society has sent me here today as a delegate to speak about the Transgender Day of Remembrance.

The Transgender Day of Remembrance was founded in 1999, originally to memorialize Rita Hester, a black trans woman who was murdered on November 28th 1998 in Allston, Massachusetts.

It has since evolved into an international day of action where the transgender community holds vigils and read the names of those who have lost their lives over the previous year.

This year transgender people and our allies will be meeting at main and hastings in Vancouver in front of the carnigee community center at 5:30 pm and March to SFU Harbour Centre, where a memorial will be held at 7pm in room 1400.

If you can’t make it to Vancouver, Surrey Pride will also be hosting a second event at the White Horse Lounge, near Scott Road Skytrain station, at 6pm.

In the last 10 years, the trans murder monitoring project has recorded 2982 murders of transgender and gender diverse people worldwide.

Each year, the numbers are climbing, with 295 in 2016, 325 in 2017 and 369 in 2018.

Discrimination against transgender people keeps us vulnerable, particularly when paired with overlapping oppressions such as racism, sexism, colonialism, ablism and sex work stigma.

Of those murdered, 62% were sex workers, and in the United States, 85% were trans women of color or indigenous trans women.

The intersectional problem of violence against transgender and gender diverse people requires intersectional solutions.

Policy makers need to assure that organizations you support which offer services to women are also offering services to transgender women.

Police and health care services, need to approach transgender people, particularly trans sex workers and indigenous trans people, with compassion rather than suspicion.

In our schools we need to advocate for programs such as sogi 123 which work to protect gender creative children and the children of transgender adults from stigma and harassment from their peers.

In our circles, we need to push back against the idea that transgender people's existence and safety is a debate. When we see trans lives as a debate, we take away a piece of their humanity.

So, I'd like to invite you to either SFU Harbour Centre at 7pm, the White Horse Lounge at 6pm, or one of the other more private events tomorrow.

If you can’t make it, take some time to reflect on the 369 names we will read out and the countless unreported transgender lives lost to violence and think about the ways we, as leaders, can put an end to transphobia and stigma as we honour the dead and fight like hell for the living.