Rainbow Modern Minimalist CD Cover Style Pride Month Instagram Post

Trans Day of Remembrance

Author: Malissa Bryan (she/they), M.A, PhD student

Today November 20th is Trans Day of Remembrance (#TDoR).

Trans Day of Remembrance is held in November in honour of Rita Hester, a Black transgender woman murdered on November 28th, 1998. A candlelight vigil in 1999 in San Francisco was held in her name. 

Today we remember all the Trans people who have died from anti-Trans violence. As a person who lives under the Trans umbrella, I have searched for community and have heard the names of Trans people shouted and cried out by those left behind to grieve. But, unfortunately, violence against Trans people continues to grow.

Trans Day of Remembrance is not just about reflecting on violence against Trans people of the past but actively standing against transphobia and other forms of hate that continue to rip through Trans communities.

Through my work with employers, communities, and families, I work on many projects focused on gender-inclusive washrooms, pronouns, and name change processes. These are important steps, but we must take a stand against all forms of Trans exclusion and hate in any form it shows up.

Today I remember and honour all Trans people who have experienced violence, rejection, or hate. I reflect on the intersecting experiences of racialized Trans people, and I honour all those who have come before me.

Tips For Allies & Accomplices

Trans Remembrance - Transgender Symbol

Verbal violence is violence:

Speak up and interrupt harmful jokes about Trans* people, insults, or false narratives that group all experiences of Trans people into one.

Never ask a transgender person for their “real name

A person’s real name is the name that they provide you. The same goes for trans people, with the added layer that for some, not all, trans people, any reference or association to their birth name can bring up feelings of anxiety, pain, or harmful memories. Therefore, never share a name that a trans person is no longer using without their clear consent.

Further, do not disclose a transgender person’s gender history. This is quite personal information, and although some trans people are willing to share, not everyone is, and it should be left up to people to decide what parts of their history if any, they would like to share. Remember that anti-trans violence is a very real threat for trans people, and outing someone can put them at risk for violence.

Be Inclusive of the T in LGBTQ+

Although trans people are included in the acronym, recognize that trans people’s experiences of gender are not the same as lesbian, gay and bi experiences of sexuality. It is important not to make assumptions about a trans person’s sexuality as a trans person can have any intersecting identity. For example, a person can be trans and lesbian, so it is best not to assume anyone’s other identities and recognize you cannot guess by looking at how someone dresses, acts, or their overall gender presentation.

Respect Pronouns

Learn as much as you can about pronouns, but do NOT guess if you do not know a trans person’s pronouns. Instead, wait and listen to hear what pronouns they use to describe themselves. You can also introduce yourself and your pronouns and ask for their introduction or use the person’s name to replace the pronouns. If you accidentally use the wrong pronoun, apologize briefly and use the correct pronoun and move on.

There are Many Ways to Transition

There are countless ways to transition; some folks use medical support such as surgery and hormones, while others do not wish to receive any medical changes. Regardless of the route chosen and the physical changes seen, Trans people are valid in their identities. Still, there are other trans people who want to have medical support but can’t due to financial and or social barriers accessing medical services. Therefore, there is no one way to be trans and trans identity is not dependent on medical care.

Use Trans Inclusive Vocabulary

In meetings, social settings, the office, classrooms use trans-inclusive language. Avoid terminology that only speaks to the gender binary men and women, such as ‘boys and girls,’ ‘ladies and gentlemen,’ and the dreaded ‘Sir and Madam.’ Instead, use terms such as people, person, folks, participants etc., as these terms do not make assumptions of gender.

My dream is to one day live in a world where Transphobia is something people read about in history books and not experience.

This Trans Day of Remembrance, stand up and speak out against transphobia and keep it going all year round.

We’re here to help support your EDI journey.


Understanding Power, Influence, and Consequences

Author: Ruth Neustifter (they/them), PhD

Power is a complicated concept when it comes to EDI and social justice.

Still, we can make important improvements in our organizations and workplaces by recognizing one basic concept: Power requires both higher influence and lower consequences. Once we understand how this equation works, we can make life-changing shifts in our policies and practices to help our organizations be more successful and our members more satisfied.

It can be easy for people who are watching groups push for change and rights to misunderstand how power works. Video of angry groups stopping traffic, sitting in government buildings to disrupt business, and other examples can be hard to watch. What about ambulances that need to get through, people who rely on government services to process their benefits on time, and others who are negatively impacted by these protests?

In our community groups and jobs, we may see groups angrily demanding accessibility, support, or protections that nobody seemed to need before. Other times, we wonder why we can’t seem to keep more diverse hires and wonder if it’s even worth it to put so much effort into recruiting and training hires from underrepresented groups. All of these are examples of what can happen when power is misunderstood.

On the surface, power looks like the ability to make things happen, to stop traffic, impact government, demand things, or simply disappear without giving notice. However, those are examples of a part of the definition of power: higher influence.

Influence is the ability to exert control or create change for ourselves, others, and our surroundings. 

However, more influence alone isn’t enough to make someone powerful. Power also requires reduced consequences. Reduced consequences mean that there is less risk and cost that comes with that influence. Consequences can include a loss of much-needed income, fewer useful professional connections, facing legal repercussions, being physically attacked, reputation damage, being ignored or mocked, being denied rights and opportunities, and much more. Therefore, in order to have power, we not only need to be able to exert influence, but we also need to be sure that the consequences and risks are relatively low.

Social Justice - Black Lives Matter Protests

In social justice efforts, it becomes clear that the people making the news are often those who actually have the least power.

Black Lives Matter protestors and others risk significant legal, physical, and other damage in order to make traffic come to a stop so that their message may finally be heard. Employees from underrepresented groups who suddenly leave us short-handed at work may be silently letting us know that they have not been supported on the job. This message is costing them income, accumulated job experience, and a positive reference. Meanwhile, those who are in power but have been inconvenienced or damaged are often left resentful and confused, which may not feel like the power position that it is.

How do we handle these situations so that there is a less toxic power imbalance and more ability to collaborate on changes that benefit everyone?

First, it requires recognizing that it is usually uncomfortable (at best) to recognize when we have more power and have not been using it to ensure that others also have access to influencing their own situations for the best. When we are used to having power, any reduction in it can quickly feel like oppression instead of movement toward equality. After all, none of us have an easy life. Having more power usually doesn’t make our problems go away and can come with a lot of responsibility. However, our risks are less when we want to create change. We are more likely to be listened to and less likely to experience the kinds of drastic risks and consequences that happen when those with less power speak up or take action. 

Secondly, we must recognize that effective management and organizing is always seeking progressive, creative, and effective ways to even the playing field. Those with less power would almost always prefer to also assume less risk. They make the decision to take those risks and face those consequences when the status quo has become so bad that there is little choice if they want to survive, much less thrive. When people in our workplaces and organizations approach us in these risky ways, demanding change, it can feel like a surprise. However, these same groups have likely either been firmly silenced from the start or have been trying to create positive change in gentler ways only to be silenced again.

It’s important to listen with humility, accountability, and a dedication to doing right by those who depend on us to make equitable decisions for all. This can be a big task and a new set of skills for many people. Groups like RDI are here to help navigate, educate, consult, and more to help you co-create positive outcomes that are long-lasting, grow with your needs, and serve all levels of your organization.

Recognizing the nature of power and its two components, influence and consequences, is a necessary step in better management and organizing. Essential changes in how organizations are typically managed, especially around power, can lead to important improvements for members at all levels.

We’re here to help support you in making shifts to ensure the longevity of your organization, beginning with members that can collaborate more with the administration while risking less harm to themselves and you.