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Edmonton events highlight ‘joy’ and ‘resilience’ on International Transgender Day of Visibility

Members of the local trans community gathered Sunday to celebrate the International Transgender Day of Visibility.

According to GLAAD, the holiday was created by trans advocate Rachel Crandall in 2009, to combat the disproportion of media stories on transgender people that were focused on violence.

At City Centre’s Landmark theatre, a documentary screening was held, followed by guest speakers, performances and a panel discussion with community leaders.

Organizer Adebayo Chris Katiiti, founder of Raricanow, a human rights organization for Black LGBTQ2S+ people, said the event was about amplifying and honouring trans voices.

“Today really is a very incredible day, we get to celebrate our existence. We get to show people that we are here,” Katiiti said. “We are part of the community, we are part of society.”

Katiiti said it’s a day of celebration, but it’s also a time to call attention to the violence and discrimination that LGBTQ2S+ people continue to face around the world.

“Just because people refuse to see us, refuse to know who we are, or go on making policies because of ideologies,” Katiiti said.

“It is still a call to everybody out there to really see trans people as human beings,” he added. “Because we are human and trans rights are human rights.”

It’s important to send a strong message to trans and non-binary youth in Alberta who may be under extra pressure from impending legislation that would limit their access to certain gender-affirming treatments.

The legislation, which includes policies on pronouns in school, gender-affirming care and trans participation in sports, was announced by Premier Danielle Smith in February.

“You are who you are, and you are enough, and no policy can take that away from you,” Katiiti said. “Come as you are, be your authentic self … and love yourself, live your life in joy.”

Marni Panas, a community advocate and speaker at the event, said the months since the new legislation was announced have been difficult for many trans people, making it all the more important to take time to highlight the positive.

“We’re facing a lot of backlash in the community, toward the community from government policies, from the broader community,” Panas said. “This is an important time to come together to celebrate all the amazing gifts, and perspectives and energies that our community brings.”

A rally was held at Dr. Wilbert Mcintyre Park in Old Strathcona Sunday evening, feauring several keynote speakers and a vigil. 

Organizer Rowan Morris said the event was an opportunity for young gender-diverse people to feel empowered by the the strength, resilience and power of the community.

“You google trans identities and the first thing that comes up is somebody who has lost their family, somebody who has passed away, somebody who has gone through something traumatic,” Morris said.

“Being able to see a speaker list of accomplished individuals, all from gender-diverse communities, is what’s going to enable the youth today to know that they can grow up and do that themselves.”

The Transgender Day of Visibility is seperate from the Transgender Day of Remembrance on Nov. 20, which honours trans victims of violence.

With files from CTV News Ottawa’s William Eltherington 

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