2nd Session, 41st Parliament,
Volume 149, Issue 130

Tuesday, March 31, 2015
The Honourable Leo Housakos, Speaker pro tempore

International Transgender Day of Visibility

Hon. Mobina S. B. Jaffer: Honourable senators, March 31 marks the International Transgender Day of Visibility. Rachel Crandall, a transgender activist, founded this day in 2009.

Transgender Day of Visibility is a day to show your support for the trans community. It aims to bring attention to the accomplishments of trans people around the globe by fighting sexism and transphobia by knowledge of the trans community.

Why is this day important for the trans community and us? With more visibility comes more understanding of their reality. Let me share with you a few statistics, according to Trans Student Educational Resources: 80 per cent of trans students felt unsafe at school because of their gender expression; 40 per cent of trans people have attempted suicide; and 58.7 per cent of gender non-conforming students experienced verbal harassment in the past year because of their gender expression, compared to 29 per cent of their peers.

On this day I would like to share with you personal stories of trans people living with this reality. I quote Naomi, who says:

One does not come hastily to the decision to transition. A great deal of forethought occurs and those that do, who want to live as their “authentic selves,” are the bravest men and women I know.

I emotionally supported my child with this transition. I love him with all my heart and I am well aware the suicide rate for transgender individuals is 54 per cent. I would rather have a transgender child than a dead one!

Although he may not appear as he once did, he is still the same sweet, caring, loving, thoughtful, intelligent person he was when he was my daughter. Only the packaging is different.

He went to university, is working and is a taxpayer and he should have the same rights as the rest of Canadians do. There is enough fear-mongering occurring in this world against transgender men and women and for them not to be protected by the laws of the free land is abhorrent.

The term “human rights” applies to all people and should apply to all genders. If not, our national anthem is meaningless. How can we expect citizens to stand on guard for thee if our country will not stand on guard for all of us?

From a proud parent of an almost 30-year-old son.

Honourable senators, I now would like to share with you the story of Julie. This letter echoes the feelings of her son.

He is still transitioning from female to male and I fear for his safety every day both from external threats of antagonistic individuals who refuse to see him as a person and the internal threat of self destruction from not fitting into a traditional gender role.

Do I not as a Canadian citizen have the same right to expect my government to protect my family and their human dignity; their sense of belonging and being valued in Canadian society? I want my son to be free from fear of attack for being himself. I want to feel some pride in Canada’s commitment to human rights and calling myself Canadian.

On this day, honourable senators, I wanted to share the real stories to raise awareness of the daily struggles trans people have to go through. Thank you.