Celebrating the Ninth International Transgender Day of Visibility

Local advocates say the event is important to both acknowledge Trans people and show community support

Morgane Oger, transgender rights advocate and executive director for the Morgane Oger Foundation. (Submitted)

Members of the trans community recently marked the ninth annual International Transgender Day of Visibility. Celebrated on March 31, the day encourages people to recognize the lives of transgender people and speak up about discrimination still endured by the community.

For Morgane Oger, executive director of the Morgane Oger Foundation and a vice-president of the B.C. NDP, the day is both “multifaceted” and “two faced.” She explains that one of its purposes is to show others that transgender people have the right to live their lives without fear.

“It’s to give hope and to give strength to members of our community who may not see a positive future in their lives because they’re transgender,” she says.

In addition, Oger says that it’s to show the non-transgender community how many trans people there are, and that decision makers and policy makers must acknowledge their presence in society.

“It’s a bad idea to actively discriminate or advocate for our discrimination because we’re around you,” she adds.

Kwantlen Student Association Queer Representative Joseph Thorpe says the day is also significant as it sheds light on a marginalized community and calls for allyship and support.

While neither Oger nor Thorpe have specific events planned for this year’s International Transgender Day of Visibility, they are busy brainstorming for future campaigns.

As part of her work with the Morgane Oger Foundation, Oger says that she will be “advocating for the respect of the rights of students everywhere in Canada in accordance with the law.” Whether the issue is a coworker who espouses hate speech or an individual who commits a violent hate crime, Oger says she is trying to encourage taking legal recourse against people who violate Canadian law through targeting specific demographics.

“I’m not advocating for anything new. I’m simply advocating for the law [to be] obeyed,” she says. “One has freedom of belief, but one doesn’t have any right to stop a protected class from being protected.”

Thorpe says the KSA did not plan an event for the International Trans Day of Visibility as it occurred during the Easter long weekend, but he hopes to hold one in the future.

He feels that it’s important for KPU to “really showcase our willingness to be inclusive and create a positive environment on campus.” During this year’s Pride Week, Thorpe wants to organize more awareness-based events for students.

“If you see that your school is inclusive, you’re more willing to feel comfortable on campus, and I think that’s so important and I think we need to work towards doing those steps,” he says.

Both Thorpe and Oger assert that being an activist isn’t the only way to show support for the trans community. Oger says that people should look at social issues with a critical lens and urge others to speak out against hatred and discrimination. Thorpe reminds non-transgender people to educate themselves about what it means to be trans in Canada.

“Open your hearts,” says Oger. “Open your minds. Look for the positive instead of only looking for the negatives, and stay away from damaging stereotypes that hurt everybody.”