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  • Writer's pictureESSEX FREE PRESS

St. Paul’s hosts flag raising, vigil service to recognize Transgender Day of Remembrance

by Sylene Argent with photos submitted

On Friday evening, members of St. Paul’s Anglican Church hosted a flag raising outside the Essex Municipal Building, in addition to a vigil inside the Church, to recognize Transgender Day of Remembrance.

  The flag raising and vigil was hosted as part of a schedule of Transgender Awareness Week activities that took place last week in Windsor with Trans Wellness Ontario.

  At the flag raising, Essex Councillor Sherry Bondy welcomed everyone and brought greetings on behalf of the Town of Essex.

  After the flag raising, attendees headed down to St. Paul’s Church. Reverend Chris Brouillard-Coyle, Rector for St. Paul’s/Trinity Anglican Churches Essex/Cottam, is also the Chaplain for Trans Wellness Ontario. She said the vigil was a means to honour the lives of the Trans community who have tragically been lost over the past year.

  Derrick Carl Biso, Volunteer Coordinator for Trans Wellness Ontario, explained November 20 is recognized internationally as Transgender Day of Remembrance; with the first recognition taking place to commemorate the life of African-American transgender woman, Rita Hester, who was brutally murdered in Boston in 1998.

  “Today, we honour those who were victims of violence because of their gender identity and gender expression…this day is very important for us to internationally bear witness to the hardships of the trans community and to come together to sort of rekindle our fire of solidarity and support for each other,” Biso said, adding the day also recognizes transgender individuals who were victims of homicides, violence, and suicide. “We also want to restore dignity to those who suffered violence.”

  Sydney Brouillard-Coyle acted as the guest preacher during the service, and spoke of the 462 individuals who passed over the last year. “Their names and stories matter. Each of the individuals had lives, stories, and dreams. They were beloved by people in their lives.”

  “Unfortunately,” Sydney continued, “many of these stories are not told. Instead, reports solely focus on the circumstances of their deaths, rather than honouring the lives that they lived. We are more than numbers. We are more than statistics. We are a diverse community of family, joined together by our mutual experiences of being trans and gender diverse, and we deserve safety and protection.”

  When the local congregation first honoured the Trans Day of Remembrance in 2019, 372 names were honoured. Last year, there were 433 names. There were nearly 20 additional names this year.

  “How high will these numbers have to escalate before we stand up and do something?”

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