Transgender vigil sees growing acceptance

A vigil to remember transgender people who have been victims of violence is held in Ottawa.

A vigil for transgender people who have been victims of violence was held in Ottawa on Sunday.

This was the second year the community has remembered people who have taken their lives or been attacked by others because of who they are.

But the day of mourning also came with some celebration, organizers say. 

The transgender flag flew outside the Ottawa police and paramedic services, and the Ottawa and Gatineau city halls. The list of organizations raising the flag each year is growing, said Amanda Ryan, a spokesperson for Gender Mosaic.

"It shows a level of acceptance that we're starting to see, especially across Canada, and we're hoping to see around the world," she said. "Ottawa is a very trans-friendly city. We're seeing more and more co-operation and acceptance from society."

Paul Morneau, a spokesperson for local paramedics, said a recent Ontario study suggested 77 per cent of transgender people have contemplated suicide, and 41 per cent have attempted it.

Transgender usually refers to people who identify with a gender, male or female, that doesn't match their biological classification at birth.

Morneau said he knows what it's like to feel different.

"As difficult as it was for me to come out as gay, I can see that it's even more difficult for the [transgender] nowadays," Morneau said. "But we're going to change that."

Next year, the fire service in Ottawa plans to raise the transgender flag, Ryan said.