Trans March in Toronto draws hundreds in support of transgender community

Hundreds of people took part in the Trans March in downtown Toronto on Friday night in solidarity with the city's transgender community.

'There's an excitement here,' says LGBT leader, who helped to organize 1st march in 2009

Consent Comes First, a team at Ryerson University's Office of Sexual Violence Support and Education, tweeted this photo on Friday night of the Trans March. (Consent Comes First ‏@RUPleasure/Twitter)

Hundreds of people took part in the Trans March in downtown Toronto on Friday night in solidarity with the city's transgender community.

Nicki Ward, a Toronto LGBT leader and director of the Church-Wellesley Neighbourhood Association, helped to organize the first Trans March in Toronto in 2009.

As Ward admired the large crowd that gathered on Church Street and Hayden Street at the start of the march on Friday night, she said the march has come a long way.

"There's an excitement here, a sense of engagement that what we're doing actually has meaning," Ward said.

Ward said the first march did not have the support of Pride Toronto and did not gain that support until 2013, when the march moved to Yonge Street.

Now, the march is much larger than it was then, Ward said. 

"I think a lot of people have embraced it as an event that really speaks to the heart of what Pride and the Stonewall riots were all about."

Since then, the way that people view the transgender community has changed, Ward said.

As well, transgender rights in Canada have been enshrined in law, after the Canadian Senate passed a bill more than a year ago that adds gender identity and gender expression to the Canadian Human Rights Act and the Criminal Code.

Under the law, it is now illegal to discriminate on the basis of gender identity or expression.

"People saw that we actually existed in very large numbers and also that our allies came out to support us, and that moved people's hearts and minds at Ottawa."

From Church and Hayden Streets, the march went north to Bloor Street East, south on Yonge Street and east on Carlton Street to Allan Gardens.

With files from Greg Ross