Over 100 people gathered downtown last week to celebrate International Trans Day of Visibility

Photo by: Katie Rainbow 🏳️‍🌈 on Unsplash

On March 31, over 100 people gathered in downtown St. Catharines in support of International Transgender Day of Visibility.

The event began at St. Catharines City Hall, where the crowd participated in sharing speeches, as well as the raising of the transgender flag. The event was met with a performance by the Strong Water Singers, as well as a message from Positive Living Niagara’s Sarah Burch, who discussed the connection between the transgender community and Indigenous cultures.

The discussion was then carried on by Colleen McTigue, a facilitator with Transgender Niagara, who noted the lack of visibility towards the transgender community.

“We’re everywhere, and the thing about being everywhere is we’re not usually visible everywhere. And so today is all about raising our visibility in the world, celebrating our accomplishments and celebrating who we are,” said McTigue in an article by the St. Catharines Standard.

Another speaker was St. Patrick’s Ward councilor Caleb Ratzlaff, who discussed his work as a pastor in Christian churches and how churches have been wrong for their treatment of transgender individuals: 

“The world that we want to see come into existence, the world that we hope for, is one where the power imbalance between white, cis-gendered men, Christian men like me and the trans community is eradicated. That comes through joy, that comes through trans joy, that comes through love and doesn’t come through shame or judgment,” said Ratzlaff.

Following the event at city hall, a march took place which brought participants to the Silver Spire United Church, where participants could visit information booths while listening to various other speakers.

This year, the event was celebrated under the theme of “Trans Joy.” Eve Pritchard, a transgender woman from the region, highlighted the meaning behind this theme:

“To me, trans joy means a radical acceptance of yourself [and] finding beauty in the process and experience of being trans.”

International Transgender Day of Visibility is an event dedicated to celebrating transgender individuals and raising awareness toward the discrimination trans people experience worldwide. The event takes place on March 31 annually.

In Canada, more than 59,460 people identify as transgender and 41,355 identify as non-binary. In the Niagara region, there are an estimated 1,350 community members who identify as transgender or non-binary.

Events like St. Catharines’ celebration allows transgender and gender non-conforming people the opportunity to feel heard and understood by their communities at large.

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