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Calgary celebrates Transgender Awareness Week

Transgender individuals and allies around the world gathered to celebrate Transgender Awareness Week.
“It’s an important week to have. Out of almost anything in the umbrella of LGBTQ+, trans-people really do just get forgotten and get ignored,” said Emily Wiebe, a SAIT Library Information Technology student who identifies as non-binary. Non-binary is a term used for those who do not conform to male/female gender identification.
During the week of Nov. 13, people and organizations from across the country participated in events to support and help with visibility for transgender and gender non-conforming people.
The annual Transgender Day of Remembrance took place on Monday, Nov. 20 preceded by a week full with, remembrance, celebration and advocacy.
These events are designed to honour the memories of people who died due to anti-transgender violence and to support transgender human rights.
“Trans-awareness gives you a personal account of what it is to be trans and what it looks like,” said Weibe, describing the positive effects seeing people out and living happy lives can be for other transgender individuals.
Realizing one’s gender identity is a unique experience, and these stories come together to create a vast spectrum of different stories and experiences.
“Reducing the human experience to one of two options is kind of a disservice,” said Weibe.
The week-long awareness campaign is designed to create awareness for the injustices, violence and bigotry transgender individuals face in everyday life.
“It’s important to remember those people who have suffered, or even worse, been killed. It’s important to let them have a voice,” said Dan Fonseca, vice president for the SAITSA Pride Club and transgender female to male. Fonseca came out to his family after moving from Brazil to Calgary.
Fonseca recalled an incident in Brazil a few years ago where a transgender woman was beaten to death by a mob of people.
“The whole country was shocked, asking, ‘how did we let that happen?’” He said, describing the need for active advocacy, such as remembering transgender individuals subjected to acts of violence through their stories.
There are risks one faces in coming out in Brazil. He said in his home country, there is a fear for safety if one’s neighbours or community find out one is transgender.
Canada has been different, fostering a culture of acceptance of transgender people, making it easier to come out.
To be a transgender ally year round, Fonseca said the first step is to be respectful and encourage people to ask questions.
“Be respectful and even if someone messes up pronouns, or your name, you can obviously see that it’s a mistake or when they’re actively trying to hurt you,” said Fonseca.
The LGBTQ+ is working to normalize people asking positive questions about the community and how people identify. Fonseca used the example of asking people their preferred pronoun.
“The most important thing is, just be respectful and listen to people and hear their stories and try to understand.
“Even if you think trans-people are kind of weird in the beginning, just try to understand their perspective and you’ll maybe be able to free yourself from those stereotypes.”

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