November 20 is recognized around the world as the annual Transgender Day of Remembrance. In preparation, the preceding week is acknowledged as Transgender Awareness Week.

Transgender Awareness Week

This week provides an opportunity to:

  • Celebrate and honour transgender people in our community
  • Highlight the contributions of transgender people to our society
  • Advance advocacy towards eliminating discrimination and violence that impact the transgender community

Transgender Day of Remembrance

Transgender Day of Remembrance was founded by transgender advocate Gwendolyn Ann Smith. It was initially a vigil to honour the memory of Rita Hester, a transgender woman who was killed in 1998. The vigil commemorated all transgender people lost to violence that year, becoming an important memorial that is held annually.

Supporting Transgender Students, Staff and Community Members

The Student Trustee Thinking Out Loud Survey from 2021 indicates an increase in hate language and aggression towards transgender students.

Transgender awareness week reminds us that everyone is responsible for creating school spaces that are:

  • Safe
  • Supportive
  • Welcoming & Inclusive

Education and representation are powerful tools in challenging harmful ideologies and creating spaces that allow all people to be their authentic selves. This is especially true for students who are impacted by multiple marginalizations. In addition to being transgender, these students could be navigating:

  • Race
  • Creed
  • Neurovariance
  • Disability
  • Newcomer identities

While this might be new learning for many of us, we must all understand that this is not a new identity. Transgender people have always existed. It is a community that has been continually erased and rendered invisible. The ongoing presence of the transgender community is a reflection of the resilience of the community. Transgender pioneers began the efforts to reclaim their right to live openly. They include:

They charted the course for today’s role models in Waterloo Region, who include:

For Transgender Awareness Week, we invite you to learn more about the transgender community and their history. The next transgender educator, engineer, writer, activist or changemaker may be a student in the WRDSB school community.

Join the Conversation

How are you taking action during Transgender Awareness Week? Let us know: @wrdsb on Twitter or @wr_dsb on Instagram. Be sure to use the hashtag #WRDSBpride on social media.