Transgender pride is a form of resistance that needs to go beyond social media and mass protests to become “communities of care,” career coach, healer and educator Joan Rupram told students during Transgender Day of Remembrance on Nov. 20.
Humber and Seneca hosted the combined event on Zoom attended by more than 60 students and staff to mark the struggles of non-binary, non-conforming and two-spirit people.
Rupram, the keynote speaker, led students through a 45-minute ritual on what it meant to be transgender and how to support others that identify as LGBTQ+.
The ceremony takes place on Nov. 20 of every year was started after the death of Rita Hester, a transgender woman murdered in their Boston home in 1998.
Transrespect versus Transphobia, a project funded by Transgender Europe (TGEU), reports 350 transgender or gender-diverse persons were murdered around the world between Oct. 1, 2019, and Sept. 30.
Of those, it stated 98 per cent were transgender women or transfeminine.
Transrespect reported 82 per cent of murdered transgender persons were Central and South America and more than three quarters of the 28 killed in the U.S. were people of colour.
“The day is held to not only memorialize those who were killed by transphobic violence but we also want to recognize and honour the trans and gender diverse people,” said Stef Figueiredo, a co-host of the event.
Rupram said the oppression of gender identity is tied with colonialism and systemic racism.
“I’m calling us into reflection to become self-aware of the colonizer within,” they said.
“The death of trans people is a systemic problem that disproportionately impacts trans woman of colour, trans-sex-workers, trans people living in poverty and trans people who have been incarcerated,” host Matthew Travill said.
Rupram shared a prayer and asked the students to join them “to honour all of the trans lives we have lost, to honour the names we will never be able to say at our times, to honour the bodies whose beauty we may never know, to honour the wisdom and presence of trans warriors who we may never feel.”
They also shared a poem with the attendees they wrote for the importance of trans lives.
“So, bring your awareness to your body and bring your awareness to your heart, and listen with your heart intensively,” Rupram said.
Throughout the event, they took short breaks and called everyone to do breathing exercises to calm themselves, relax, and to better understand the importance of the day.
“It is my intention today to inspire passionate action in your hearts,” Rupram said.
They called everyone who attended the event as a leader that can make changes, “build intentional communities that erupt and disrupt white supremacy.”
“I will self-determine, this body is mine,” Rupram said, giving advice for everyone to keep in mind.
They addressed the issue of femininity and masculinity being incorrectly attached to certain body types based on heteronormal stereotypes.
“I’m calling you into self-reflection,” Rupram said.