Monday, November 20th, we mark the Transgender Day of Remembrance by celebrating how far we’ve come in the fight for trans rights.

While transgender people still face significant discrimination, we are also witnessing unprecedented signs of acceptance. Just weeks ago, the small catholic town of Très-Saint-Redempteur in Quebec elected Julie Lemieux as Canada’s first openly transgender mayor.

Thanks to the work of trans people and their allies, you can no longer be discriminated against on the grounds of your gender identity or gender expression.  Though this protection was won in 2012 for people in Ontario, these protections were finally added to the Canadian Human Rights Act in June of this year.

CUPE Ontario is proud to support our own transgender members and activist whose contribution to our communities and our movement is critical to our success.  It is only by standing proudly together that we will succeed in winning improvements for workers in this province.

We take pride in the fact that CUPE is a union that has helped lead the fight for trans rights in Ontario. Thanks to CUPE Ontario activist Martine Stonehouse, people who find themselves trapped in the wrong body are no longer forced to live with it because they can’t afford the necessary gender reassignment surgery.

Through Martine’s fight at the Ontario Human Rights Commission and the financial support she received from our union, the Ontario government was forced to cover this vital surgery under OHIP.  Coming out as trans gendered is a difficult process for most, but CUPE Ontario members can be proud that through our work, access to necessary surgery is not one of the barriers they have to face.

Though it is true real advancements have been made in trans rights, we can’t ignore this work is far from complete.

Trans youth struggle with mental health problems at an alarming level.  For many, this manifests in the form of self-harm and attempted suicide.  Far too many succeed.

While we celebrate our accomplishments, we must remember and honour the lives of trans-identified people who have died due to transphobia, hate crimes, illness, substance use, suicide, or murder.

Until we can create a world where no one faces bullying, harassment and discrimination for simply being who they are, it is up to all of us to stand with trans people, against the bigotry and hate that is so damaging to our workplaces and our communities.