On November 20, 2020 – the 21st annual Trans Day of Remembrance (TDoR) – we commemorate the lives lost to transphobia and cissexism. We remember all of those who were taken too early, be it due to violence, depression, overdose, or COVID-19. The importance of this day, especially this year, feels immeasurable. At a time where our collective ability to mourn has been disrupted, we seek different and brave new ways to love and care for each other. Our collective strength has and continues to rest in our committed care of one another.
This past year, around the globe and in Toronto, has been like no other. The global pandemic has laid bare what so many of us already knew; that the world we live in today continues to be unjust. 2 Spirit, trans, and non-binary communities continue to experience epidemic levels of violence and discrimination. Our Indigenous and Black siblings continue to leave this world too soon. As we have seen over and over again in Toronto this past year, the institutions meant to protect us, continue to fail us.
We know that racialized, and specifically Indigenous and Black communities, are disproportionately bearing the weight of this global pandemic. We see this here in Toronto where COVID-19 rates continue to be higher in racialized communities across the city. We know that 2 Spirit, trans, non-binary people are more likely to have precarious jobs, lose housing, and experience decreased access to affirming social networks. While this pandemic has impacted all of us, it is those of us who were already struggling in a world structured to push us out of existence that bear its true weight.
The 519’s theme for TDoR 2020, Honoring Trans Lives: Remembering our Black Roots, is an important reminder that we must look to the leadership and wisdom of those who are most marginalized in our communities and in our world. It is because of the strength and fearlessness of Black trans women that many of the basic rights that we, as diverse 2SLGBTQ communities hold dear today, exist at all. Their continued work and fortitude on the frontlines of this global pandemic is formidable and deserves all our recognition and respect.
Now more than ever, even when we are apart, our Army of Lovers will continue to fight for what is true and just in this world. To fight for a world that understands that when we center those who are most marginalized, we all benefit. A world where naming and knowing where we come from is not divisive but rather speaks truth to power so that we may all one day be free.
While The 519 would usually be preparing to welcome hundreds of community members into our ballroom – adorned with beautiful decorations and loving sentiments, we will be doing things differently this year. This year, The 519 will host a virtual event with speakers and artistic contributions from local 2 Spirit, trans, and non-binary artists. We are also delighted to announce Eva Simone, Syrus Marcus Ware, and Ravyn Wngz as the keynote speakers. We are honored to have the Circle of Cedar Singers leading our Opening Ceremony.