Vancouver residents to honour transgender victims lost to violence
Event organizers say more than 370 known transgender people were killed worldwide in the last year
Vancouver's Carnegie Community Centre will see candles lit during a memorial service on Monday as part of the International Transgender Day of Remembrance.
The names of more than 370 transgender people killed worldwide in the last year will be read aloud at the event.
"These are just the people that we know about," said event organizer Tami Starlight during CBC's On the Coast.
"There's even more that we're completely unaware of due to the constraints of language and reporting."
It's the first event of its kind in B.C. since Canada's government passed Bill C-16, which introduced federal protections for transgender Canadians.
The legislation made it illegal to discriminate on the basis of gender identity or expression.
Despite a growing awareness of transgender rights, Starlight said international records show an increase of violence against transgender people in recent years.
"I could point to the ... rise of right-wing supremacy in North America and around the world in general," Starlight said. "That's definitely a factor."
Starlight, who is in charge of cataloguing and researching the names that will be read aloud, said the increase paints a grim picture.
"Unfortunately I don't see things getting any better anytime soon. All I can do is hope that things don't get too terrible."
Starlight said organizers were shocked at the grisly nature of many of the killings.
"It took many many hours to put this all together. It's hard to fathom the mindset and reality of the people who committed these horrendous, graphic and very, very violent crimes."
Starlight said discrimination against transgender people is common in Vancouver, although it isn't always violent.
Discrimination while seeking medical attention, discrimination when finding a place to live, and bullying in the workplace are just some of the problems Starlight said happen all the time.
Starlight said the Vancouver Park Board took a step in the right direction when it issued signs at public washrooms saying transgender people were welcome.
Similar events are being held throughout Canada on Nov. 20. The day of commemoration began in 1999 after the death of Rita Hester, a transgender woman in the United States.
With files from On the Coast