A student group and York’s student union joined forces and hosted a Trans Remembrance Day Nov. 18.
The series of events held by the Centre for Women and Trans People at York and York Federation of Students (YFS) remembered victims of violence against transgender people.
“It’s critical to raise awareness around transphobia because it’s something we collectively as a society play a role in,” said Darshika Selvasivam, vice-president of campaigns and advocacy at the YFS.
Selvasivam explained that a day of commemoration “is an opportunity for [York students] as a community to remember those who lost their lives as a result of transphobia.”
The events began in the Vanier Senior Common Room, with a round table discussion hosted by a panel of guest speakers including Trish Salah, Canadian feminist writer; Syrus Ware, a transgendered visual artist; Dr. Savannah Garmon, physicist and social activist; and Ruth Bramham, trans advocate for 25 years.
The panelists spoke about their experiences, as well as their work and thoughts regarding trans activism, alongside trans awareness and treatment in a university setting.
Bramham, a York employee, said “we are people like everybody else and deserve the same treatment in terms of human rights and accommodations.”
Bramham, who has identified herself as a trans person since 1993, and had previously spoken at York in the past she said she had no problems opening up to students about her past experiences.
“Initially it was very emotional but you get used to it after a while. As you go into your revised role it’s a matter of dusting off the old and putting on the new,” said Bramham.
Throughout the day, lunch and crafting sessions were held at the York University Student Centre. The chain of events ended with a vigil outside Vari Hall, held in memory of trans victims of transphobic violence.
This event also featured an open microphone for those who wished to share their thoughts, feelings and past experiences.
Reflecting on her own experiences, Bramham described her experiences at York as “very good,” explaining that her being a trans person never had an impact on her job.
Selvasivam said the series of events showed “solidarity for trans students and people in our community and on our conference to say that they are not alone and they are allies who are committed to continue the fight against transphobia.”