P.E.I trans woman to speak at Montreal Massacre memorial service
Dec. 6 marks 32 years since the École Polytechnique massacre
A transgender woman in Prince Edward Island has been invited to speak at a Montreal Massacre memorial service being held today by the P.E.I. Advisory Council on the Status of Women.
Monday marks 32 years since 14 women were killed at École Polytechnique.
"I was deeply touched," said Anastasia Preston. "It is a huge honour for myself and it's a huge honour as a trans woman to be included in an event like this.
"For decades, trans women have been kept out of the conversation around gender-based violence."
Lack of data on trans violence
Government data does not have accurate records of the number of transgender women murdered in gender-based violence, Preston said.
It boils down to the trans community's relationship with government and police, she said.
"A lot of it comes down to the way that the government collects information and also, to a certain extent, community reluctance to engage with the government due to decades of systemic oppression," she said.
During Monday's event, Preston said she will speak about some of her experiences of harassment on P.E.I. She hopes her stories can raise awareness.
One incident happened in a bar.
"[I] had a red dress on and I was walking through the crowd and somebody groped me. It was probably one of the most revolting experiences I've had in my life," she said.
"I couldn't believe that somebody would just … touch me like that. They felt they had the right to my body when they didn't."
It's an unfortunate reality most women face, Preston said. More needs to be done to prevent these issues.
"We have to make a systemic change to the system where we start to call out these behaviours and examine them."
The memorial event is by invitation only due to COVID-19 restrictions. The public can view a live stream from noon-1 p.m. at the P.E.I. Advisory Council on the Status of Women Facebook page.
With files from Laura Chapin