Skip to content

Trans Day of Remembrance

Hundreds mourn lives lost to transphobia


On November 20, hundreds of people gathered around the George-Étienne Cartier statue in Jeanne-Mance park to mark Transgender Day of Remembrance.

Transgender Day of Remembrance was started by Gwendolyn Ann Smith in 1999 “to highlight the losses we face due to anti-transgender bigotry and violence.” At the recent vigil in Montreal, attendees gathered around the statue holding candles to honour those who lost their lives to transphobia this year before concluding with a march to La Fontaine Park.

The vigil began with trans activist Celeste Trianon, asking attendees to remember those who had been “taken [or] stolen by transphobia.” She read out the several names: Brianna Ghey, a 16-year-old girl murdered in England; Dani Cooper, a 27-year-old poet and activist killed by police in Vancouver; Leelah Alcorn, a 17-year-old girl who committed suicide due to the extreme transphobia she experienced from those around her; Jayden Miller, an 11-year-old stabbed alongside their mother outside of an elementary school in Edmonton; Eden Knight, a 23-year-old women who committed suicide after being forced to return to Saudi Arabia and detransition; and Jesus Ociel Baena, Mexico’s first openly non-binary judge and a trailblazer for queer rights in the country. Finally, Trianon paid tribute to all those other trans lives lost to bigotry who she didn’t mention. After this speech, attendees raised their candles for a moment of silence to honour all of these lives cut short.

After the moment of silence, another speaker stepped up, asking the audience to “remember the progress we made and also those we’ve lost along the way.” They read out messages that community members had written for trans loved ones they’d lost. One of the people mentioned was a trans man named Jacob who took his life due to “social isolation and cancel culture.”

“He was a ray of light in my life and I will never let his light die,” the message read. “I think he would’ve wanted to tell the world to keep their friends close, reach out, [and] don’t leave them alone.”
Next, a representative of Le Front de Lutte Pour un Immobilier Populaire (FLIP) Montreal took to the stage to highlight the difficulties trans people face in housing, such as discrimination and evictions. They also argued that the CAQ’s Bill 31, which allows landlords to block lease transfers, would make the housing market even more inhospitable to trans renters.

The final speaker came from the Queers for Palestine contingent, organized by the organizations P!nk Bloc, Helem MTL, and Mubaadarat. They argued that it’s important to draw attention to the existence of trans Palestinians to “dispel the pinkwashing used as a tool by the genocidal Israeli government.”
“Now, more than ever, it is important to show solidarity with our trans Palestinian siblings,” the speaker said. “It’s really important to mourn our trans comrades everywhere in the world, in Canada just as in Congo, Haiti, and Palestine.”

After the speeches ended, the group marched to La Fontaine Park, staging a die-in on Mont-Royal avenue on the way.