Community members and provincial representatives gathered in Victoria to witness the first-ever raising of the transgender flag at the B.C. legislature.
The occasion coincided with the annual Transgender Day of Remembrance, an event that has taken place for 20 years to commemorate murder and violence perpetrated against transgender people.
Mitzi Dean, parliamentary secretary for gender equity, said more than 300 trans and gender diverse people have lost their lives worldwide in the last year.
Statistics also show that trans people remain targets: according to studies by Egale Canada and UBC, 70 per cent of trans youth in Canada have experienced discrimination because of their gender identity, while the same number report experiencing sexual harassment.
Thirty-six per cent of trans youth report being physically threatened or injured at school, according to Egale Canada.
Statistics Canada’s latest hate crimes statistics don’t specifically track offences against transgender people.
Dean said the statistics likely don’t tell the whole picture.
“We also know there is a staggering number of unreported deaths around the world,” she said.
“The vast majority of those who are murdered are trans women of colour, and their average age is just 31 years old. They are activists, stylists, civil servants, sex workers, artists and more.”
Dean touted recent moves in B.C. to raise awareness of gender identity in schools, create non-gendered government ID and improved access to gender affirming surgery in B.C., but said work remained to make a safer and more inclusive province.
Members of the legislature also marked Canada’s Transgender Day of Remembrance by viewing a documentary that follows a depressed, suicidal female teenager’s three-year surgical and life-changing transition to a beaming male supermodel on the fashion runways of Paris.
The screening of the documentary, Krow’s TRANSformation, was one of many events across Canada that acknowledges the discrimination, harassment and marginalization that transgender people experience.
Krow, who only uses his first name, was at the B.C. legislature for the documentary screening. He said his life was one of darkness and confusion until he decided to undergo transition surgery in his late teens.
The trans flag was raised to half mast to mark the solemnity of the occasion.
-With files from the Canadian Press