Transgender Day of Remembrance 2014 with text "Transgender Day of Remembrance - November 20 - Enlighten the world and honor lives lost to hatred and violence"

CUPE Ontario supports the Transgender Day of Remembrance, observed on November 20th, and we encourage our locals and members to participate in observances in their communities, and to share information about this day, which started 16 years ago.

The Transgender Day of Remembrance was created to remember all transgender people who have died as a result of transphobic discrimination and victimization. Along with remembering, it is also a day to take action to end the violence and harassment experienced by the entire transgender community in our province and around the world.

CUPE Ontario strongly supports important steps toward equality, including Toby’s Law, which amended the Ontario Human Rights Code to include gender identity and gender expression, and NDP MP Randall Garrison’s Bill C-279, which is currently before the Senate and seeks to amend the Canadian Human Rights Code.

As a union, we have also developed and successfully negotiated collective agreement language on many equality fronts, including specific language to support transgendered members in our workplaces. We are proud that CUPE was one of the very first unions to bargain protections for transgendered workers.

Having good laws and strong collective agreements are important first steps – but even these achievements have not ended transphobic violence. Systemic discrimination against trans people still exists.

That’s why participating in and supporting initiatives that come from the trans communities, such as the Transgender Day of Remembrance, is an important part of our on-going work to end transphobic violence, to move our union and our communities forward, and to achieve real and lasting equality.

There are many current examples of the ongoing systemic discrimination against transgendered people. The case of Boyd Kodak shows this all too well. His human rights complaint is making headlines today, stemming from his treatment by police and prison officials who refused to recognize the gender on his identification and put him through a humiliating three-day ordeal in December 2012.

His story is not an isolated incident. It illustrates why increased workplace anti-harassment training is needed and how much work there remains to do in our workplaces and in our communities to change the transphobic culture that exists.

We all have a role to play in educating our members and co-workers, to report transphobic acts and to make our workplaces and communities safe.

On November 20th, we applaud Boyd Kodak’s brave stand. We renew our commitment to fighting transphobia wherever we encounter it. And we encourage everyone to write to their senators and urge them to move Bill C-279 forward.