This Thursday, March 31, marks the International Transgender Day of Visibility. This global event is dedicated to shining a light on the accomplishments and resilience of the transgender community.
The International Transgender Day of Visibility began in 2009 thanks to the efforts of Rachel Crandall, an American trans activist who not only wanted to raise awareness about the challenges the transgender community faces, but also wanted to affirm and celebrate everyone who identifies as trans. She pointed out that the only international day devoted to her community was the Transgender Day of Remembrance, which is held to mourn trans folks who had lost their lives. However, there was no day dedicated to celebrate living transgender people.
International Transgender Day of Visibility is a moment of celebration, as we recognize our trans brothers and sisters and do everything we can to empower them to thrive. But it’s also a day of advocacy to raise awareness about the ongoing struggles that trans folk face. According to the Mapping the Void study conducted by McMaster University in 2019, 93 per cent of trans people in Hamilton feel unsafe. More than 50 per cent of Two Spirit and LGBTQIA+ people here have faced harassment, violence or hate crimes, and 46 per cent said they had considered harming themselves because of issues related to their sexuality or gender expression.
Here at YWCA Hamilton, we are dedicated to supporting the trans community. We offer programming to address the needs of the trans community, including Join, our settlement program for new Canadians, and speqtrum, our program for LGTBQIA+ youth.
Currently, speqtrum is the only program in Hamilton that is specifically targeted to supporting and engaging with Two Spirit and LGTBQIA+ youth. Through speqtrum, we are able to offer a safe space to trans youth, as well as other members of the Two Spirit and LQTBQIA+ community.
We know that our programs change lives. Consider River Holland-Valade, a participant in speqtrum who shared their story for our Case for Support, who described speqtrum was the first place they felt like they belonged somewhere. “They not only accepted me for who I was, but also celebrated those things,” they said. We are so proud to help individuals like River find community, connection, and belonging.
In addition to these vital programs, YWCA Hamilton is also a proud sponsor of the Hamilton Pride festival, scheduled to take place in a hybrid virtual/in-person format this summer. Our organization is excited to continue our support for this celebration of the Two Spirit and LGTBQIA+ community, and look forward to the celebration and advocacy that stems from this important event in the life of our city.
Please join in the conversation about the International Transgender Day of Visibility on March 31, whether it’s through social media, with colleagues or friends, or with your family. And, don’t forget to follow the hashtag #TDOV for more information and ways to take action