Hand holding a lit candle, with other lit candles in the background

Observing Transgender Day of Remembrance

Alexandra Gillespie

To the UTM community:

What began in 1999 as a vigil to remember Rita Hester, a transgender woman of colour killed in Boston, Mass., has now grown into the internationally recognized Transgender Day of Remembrance. Observed on Nov. 20, it honours those killed as a result of anti-transgender hatred, and raises public awareness of continued prejudice and violence against transgender people.

The University of Toronto denounces transphobia, whether expressed as hate crimes, interpersonal discrimination or structural barriers. Here at UTM, we strive to create trans-affirming spaces by adopting gender inclusive language, including names and pronouns, addressing discriminatory comments when they occur, and implementing all-gender washroom options throughout campus.  

Developing inclusive spaces is a key goal expressed in our draft Strategic Framework: I encourage UTM’s entire community to attend U of T’s Trans Day of Remembrance & Resilience virtual event (today, Nov. 19, 2021 at 1 p.m). It will be followed by a Trans, Nonbinary and Two-Spirit Gathering at 3 p.m

We hope the UTM community will join collective action against transphobic discrimination: by continuing to learn, by calling out negative attitudes and beliefs about trans people, and by advocating for and enacting systemic change. We need to address irrational fears and misunderstandings, derogatory language, name-calling, bullying and abuse. And we need to eliminate structural barriers, increase the visibility of trans people and celebrate the societal contributions that they make.

If you are a student who needs immediate support, please call the Health & Counselling Centre at 905-828-5255 to speak with a counsellor. Counselling is also available through the U of T My Student Support Program (U of T My SSP) 24/7 by calling 1-844-451-9700.

Staff, faculty and librarians can access mental health resources and supports through the Employee & Family Assistance Program (EFAP). The 24/7 helpline at 1-800-663-1142 provides support for those experiencing grief, stress and trauma.

To learn more about resources available to the University community, please visit the websites of the Sexual & Gender Diversity Office, the Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion Offices at UTM and UTSC, and the Sexual Violence Prevention & Support Centre.

Thank you.

Alexandra Gillespie
Vice-President and Principal
University of Toronto Mississauga