Fight­ing for re­spect

Day of re­mem­brance held for trans­gen­dered RCMP in­ves­ti­gate shoot­ing in Ritchot


THERE were about a dozen faces to re­mem­ber, a dozen names, and a dozen sto­ries swept be­hind the push of his- tory.

On Satur­day, the sixth an­nual Win­nipeg Trans­gen­der Day of Re­mem­brance drew ad­vo­cates and al­lies to Thun­der­bird House to re­mem­ber those who lost their lives to vi­o­lence, stigma or other facets of prej­u­dice against peo­ple who iden­tify as a gen­der that isn’t the one as­signed to them at birth.

“ I’m in­volved for my sis­ters who have passed on,” said Alaya McIvor, 27, who serves on the WTDOR com­mit­tee.

Among those sis­ters: Di­vas Boulanger, who was slain in 2004 when she was 28 years old. In July, six years af­ter Boulanger was mur­dered and her body dumped out­side Portage la Prairie, RCMP ar­rested a sus­pect.

If the ar­rest added an ur­gency to this year’s day of re­mem­brance — which is marked across the world — it also of­fered en­cour­age­ment. “( It shows) that trans women’s mur­ders are be­ing treated with the re­spect of any other per­son, and get­ting the at­ten­tion they need to not go into cold case,” said Al­bert McLeod, an ad­vo­cate.

This at­ten­tion is needed all too of­ten. Trans­gen­der peo­ple, ad­vo­cates point out, are still at risk, dis­pro­por­tion­ately so. Some­times os­tra­cized from fam­i­lies and com­mu­ni­ties, some­times marginal­ized, many trans peo­ple strug­gle to find a space to sur­vive.

Some, like Di­vas, wind up on the streets. And when the worst be­falls, their mem­o­ries are tied up in a me­dia nar­ra­tive that of­ten in­sists on call­ing them names they didn’t call them­selves, and pro­nouns they never wanted.

“ Me­dia have a big role in ed­u­cat­ing the pub­lic,” McIvor said. “ It doesn’t help when the me­dia la­bel trans­gen­der or trans­sex­ual peo­ple. I be­lieve how a per­son lives their lives is their pref­er­ence. Ev­ery­one is dif­fer­ent... and we need al­lies, for ex­am­ple the me­dia, to stand up for the trans­gen­der com- mu­nity.”

There has been some progress in aware­ness and ac­cep­tance of trans­gen­der peo­ple in Man­i­toba, he said. For in­stance, abo­rig­i­nal spir­i­tual cer­e­monies can con­tain gen­dered roles; in re­cent years, he says, he’s seen more cer­e­monies in which trans­gen­der peo­ple are wel­comed.

In so­cial ser­vices, some North End agen­cies have in­vited trans­gen­der peo­ple to speak to par­tic­i­pants.

But there are other stum­bling blocks: ad­dic­tions pro­grams, for in­stance, that of­fer gen­dered pro­grams that may force trans­gen­der peo­ple into ther­a­peu­tic en­vi­ron­ments with peo­ple who are prej­u­diced against them. There are still fail­ures of the health care sys­tem to sup­port and re­spect trans­gen­der peo­ple’s health needs.

And there are still cases like Di­vas. And in ev­ery case, McLeod added, think of what’s been lost.

“ They bring some­thing to the cir­cle, and the cir­cle isn’t com­plete with­out them,” he said. “ If you shut them out, you can’t fully ex­pe­ri­ence what a fam­ily could be, what a com­mu­nity could be. Ev­ery­one who comes to that cir­cle brings a gift.”

“ It’s not peo­ple ask­ing to be let in, it’s peo­ple ask­ing to be rec­og­nized who have al­ways been there.” A 58-year-old man is in hos­pi­tal in crit­i­cal con­di­tion af­ter what RCMP de­scribe as a “ firearm in­ci­dent” Satur­day af­ter­noon.

The in­ci­dent hap­pened on Waver­ley Road in the RM of Ritchot at about 3: 15 p. m.

Of­fi­cers from the RCMP St. Pierre de­tach­ment are in­ves­ti­gat­ing.

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