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Egale’s Message to Legislators on This Trans Day of Remembrance

This Trans Day of Remembrance (TDOR), November 20th 2015, Egale Canada Human Rights Trust (Egale) joins with trans communities, their friends, families and allies across Canada and the world in acknowledging the many trans and gender variant individuals who have lost their lives in the face of transphobic violence. Egale remains hopeful that positive change is possible, through the actions of individuals, community groups, and governments.

TDOR offers an opportunity to acknowledge and reflect on the devastating effects of transphobic violence, which ripple through our communities and around the world. In Canada, discrimination and violence are common experiences for trans and gender variant people, who routinely report unfair treatment in employment and education, as well as alarming levels of verbal and physical harassment, sexual assault, intimate partner violence, and experiences of suicidality.

This TDOR, Egale rallies with communities around the world to advance a vision for a safer, more inclusive future for trans and gender variant people. Today we call on the newly elected federal government to take immediate action to fulfill its commitment to enact legal protections for trans and gender variant people within the Canadian Human Rights Act and the Criminal Code. These changes, first proposed in the House of Commons over ten years ago, are long overdue. They are a catalyst and an essential tool for improving access to safe housing and stable employment, more positive interactions with government and community services, and protections from hate-motivated violence.

Canada’s legislators must heed the ongoing calls from trans communities for legislative change and decisive action towards the prevention and investigation of violence. This process must include fulfilling the commitment to a full inquiry into the country’s staggering number of missing and murdered indigenous women—inclusive of those who identify as Two Spirit—in recognition of the many ways in which the discrimination facing trans communities overlaps with misogyny and anti-indigenous racism.

As trans communities and their allies pause to remember those we have lost, we ask our government to honour these lives by moving quickly and effectively, in partnership with trans communities, to fulfill its commitments for a safer and more inclusive Canada.

Background Statistics

Data from the 2015 Trans Youth Health Survey show that over two thirds (70%) of trans youth (19 – 25 years) have experienced discrimination or been treated unfairly by others in Canada because of their gender identity. In schools, more than one in three (36%) younger trans participants (14 – 18) reported having been physically threatened or injured in the past year.

These alarming trends continue when observing intimate partner violence against trans individuals, where nearly 1 in 4 participants reported experiencing violence from a romantic partner (24 – 28%) or being physically forced to have sexual intercourse when they did not want to (23%).

Data from the same survey show that 69% of older trans youth had ever seriously considered suicide, while 37% had attempted it at least once. Similar numbers exist for younger trans youth, 65% of whom reported ever seriously considering suicide, and more than a third of whom had attempted it at least once.

Egale’s study of Canadian schools, Every Class in Every School, uncovered similar experiences:

  • 49% of trans students have been sexually harassed in school within the past year.
  • 37% of trans students have been physically harassed or assaulted because of their gender expression.

The Ontario-based Trans Pulse study also indicated high rates of violent hate-motivated incidents targeting trans and gender variant people:

  • 20% of trans Ontarians have been targets of physical or sexual assaults because they are trans.
  • 34% of trans Ontarians have experienced verbal harassment or threats because they are trans.