CMHA Ottawa joins individuals and organizations worldwide to commemorate the Transgender Day of Remembrance, an annual observance on November 20 that honours the memory of the transgender people whose lives were lost in acts of anti-transgender violence. These acts of violence are due to stigma and discrimination against their identity and community.
Individuals who identify as transgender experience stigma, discrimination and violence, and “everyday transphobia.” These experiences of discrimination and violence can result in exclusion from social spaces, unemployment, avoidance of health care, and poor mental health. According to the Trans PULSE project based in Ontario, transgender people experience extremely high levels of depression and suicide, with over half in Ontario identifying symptoms consistent with clinical depression.
A large source of the stigma is the belief that questioning one’s gender is pathological and in need of treatment. An example of this is the practice of “conversion therapy” or “reparative therapy,” which claims to change a person’s sexual orientation, gender identity, or expression. There is significant evidence of harm experienced by transgender people resulting from attempts to change their identity. While this practice has been discredited by numerous mental health experts, some practitioners continue to practice this approach due to discrimination and societal bias against transgender people.
On this Day of Remembrance, CMHA Ottawa stands with others in remembering those whose lives have been lost, whose families and loved ones have been hurt, and those who advocate for a safer path ahead. CMHA honours members of the transgender community who have shared their experiences and hopes to create new avenues to have their voices heard in the influence of greater education, service design, programming and delivery.