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November 20 marks the 11th Annual Transgender Day of Remembrance, a day to remember our transgender sisters and brothers at home and abroad who have been murdered as a result of transphobic violence.

Toronto’s 519 Community Centre estimates that more than one trans person per month dies from transphobic violence and that trans women of colour who are sex workers are disproportionately affected by violence. Most often, these tragic events are not reported in the mainstream media and the perpetrators are seldom prosecuted.

Most instances of discrimination, however, are more subtle than these shocking acts of violence - and today is an opportunity to think about some of the ways that, as trade unionists, we can commit ourselves to working toward the full equality of our transgender sisters and brothers in our workplaces, in our communities and in our union.

We can:

  • Educate ourselves and our members about the challenging affecting trans people in the workplace. One way to do this is the Pride in CUPE workshop offered through our union education.
  • Put trans issues on our list of priorities at the bargaining table. Sample language can be found in CUPE’s Bargaining Equality guide.
  • Work with our divisions to lobby for inclusion of gender identity and gender expression in our human rights legislation.

The Universal Declaration of Human Rights states that everyone has the right to security of person and to protection from violence or bodily harm. The labour movement embodies these principles through our sense of solidarity with one another and the notion that an injury to one is an injury to all. Let us honour those who have died but let us also commit individually and collectively to re-energize our support for trans communities and their struggle for equality – in our locals, in our divisions and nationally.