Summary – General Meeting November 8, 2014

TDOR Flag-Raising Ceremony

The flag-raising ceremony will take place at 3pm on November 20 at Toronto City Hall.  A number of special guests who were discussed at the previous General Meeting are confirmed, including Barbara Hall, Krystyn Wong-Tam, George Smitherman and Cheri Dinovo.  George Smitherman will encourage more dignitaries to attend.

Press releases have been distributed to Now Magazine, Toronto Star and Proud FM.  The TV stations will be contacted closer to the date of the ceremony, as they tend to make their programming decisions at the last moment.  There will be an article in Xtra.

A member pointed out that it is common protocol to invite politicians from all parties to such an event.  Invitations should be extended to all MPPs.  Kathleen Wynn has confirmed she has a prior engagement and will not be able to attend.

The proposed agenda is as follows: There will be three speakers from the trans community.  The event will be opened by Alex Butler who will perform a First Nations ceremony to bless and cleanse the area.  Barbara Hall and Cheri Dinovo would like to say a few words, and Krysyn Wong-Tam will also speak as required by the City’s Protocols Office.  The aim is to have a ceremony which is 80% trans and 20% allies.  The members present agreed that this was an acceptable plan.

Trans speakers will have 4 minutes each to speak, and allies will have 2 minutes each.  There will be a poetry reading by a trans women who has published a poem dedicated to Kyle Scanlon.  The flag-raising will be introduced with a brief dedication by Rev. Brent Hawkes.  The flag will then be raised to half-mast for a moment of silence, before being raised to the top of the flag pole.  As far as we can determine, a flag has never been raised to half-mast before during a flag-raising ceremony at Toronto City Hall.  The ceremony will be closed with a song from Lynx of the band Random Order, who is a trans man.

The 519 has offered space from 4pm to 6pm so people have somewhere to go after the flag-raising and before the 519’s TDOR event begins at around 6:30pm.

A member asked why the flag-raising is at 3pm on a work day.  This was the latest time that City Hall could schedule it, since it needs to happen in daylight hours.  The events have been scheduled so people can attend either or both.

The flag will stay up for up to two weeks or until another flag-raising is scheduled, whichever is sooner.

Choice of Flag to Be Raised

The flag to be raised for TDOR has yet to be chosen.  There have been three rounds of balloting at the TTA’s outreach locations and some informal polls in the Facebook group which have narrowed down the options.  Both the International and Ontario trans flags have groups of passionate supporters and the support is split between these two flags.  One of the new proposed designs (“Trans Kaleidoscope”) has also garnered significant support, especially from non-binary members of the community.  Regardless of the flag which is raised, all three designs will be displayed at the flag raising and we are calling for people to hold the flag polls for each of the flags, so they do not blow away during the ceremony.  The 519 and Sherbourne Health Centre have also indicated that they will to display all three flags.

The design of the Trans Kaleidoscope flag was explained, demonstrating how it is inclusive of non-binary and intersexed people.

There will be one last round of voting at the 519 and at Sherbourne Health Centre to decide which of the three flags shall be raised during the ceremony.  If anyone wants to order their own flag, they are $105 each. – the more we order the cheaper each one will be.

A representative from CUPE asked about obtaining flags for Pride next year.  A letter from the TTA (in January) would be useful to move this process forward.

It was noted that the Trans Kaleidoscope flag has been revised to add a black border around the symbol, which is symbolic of anti-oppressive and anti-racist sentiment,

Speakers for TDOR Flag-Raising Ceremony

Speakers that are confirmed so far include:

  • Rupert Raj, who identifies as a trans man of colour and was one of the first trans men in North America in the 1970s.
  • Shadmith Manzo, who came to Canada as a refugee from Mexico, where she had been beaten and thrown in jail.
  • Nicki Ward, who is a well-known trans activist in Toronto, and who organized the community trans march in 2013 and 2014.
  • Some other speakers have been invited but have not yet confirmed.

The three confirmed speakers include a trans man of colour, a trans woman of colour and a well-known activist.  The members present at the meeting expressed general satisfaction with the speakers confirmed so far.

Ways to Engage with Trans Youth

There was a discussion about TTA outreach to trans youth.  Information about TDOR has been distributed via SOY.  A young transwoman present noted that it can be hard to reach trans youth via traditional channels as many of them are on up-and-coming social networks.  The TTA has made contact with RyPride who will be holding their own TDOR event.  There was an appeal for suitable trans youth speakers for the TDOR flag-raising.  An offer was extended to add an additional speaker to represent trans youth, if a candidate who is willing to speak can be found.  It was decided that the TTA would work together with the young transwomen to find a suitable speaker, if possible.

TDOR will be publicized through HAVEN, which has a younger membership.  It was also suggested that the TTA contact the Triangle School.

It was noted that it would be excellent to establish a trans youth special interest group within the TTA.  It was also suggested that TTA organize an event for trans youth in the future.  All present were agreed that outreach to trans youth is a high priority, if we are to pass on the torch of activism to the next generation.

The young transwoman noted that there is a problem with education in the trans youth community.  For example, many are not aware of the significance and importance of TDOR and are ignorant of the struggles of the past.

It was noted that it seems to be hard to find trans youth who are willing to be ‘out’ in public and to talk to the media.

There was a discussion of the history of trans organizing in the labour movement and the large amount of trans material available in the Canadian Lesbian and Gay Archives.

Permanent Trans Memorial

The TTA Steering Committee attended a meeting at Toronto City Hall with councillors, and senior individuals from the 519 and Sherbourne Health Centre to discuss the possibilities for a permanent Trans Memorial.  These organizations plan to work closely with TTA to achieve a permanent Trans Memorial.  The City pointed out that Allen Gardens is being refurbished, and it would be possible to insert a Trans Memorial into the currently construction plans without requiring a new tender.

Following this meeting, the TTA polled the membership to see if it would be acceptable to continue to discussions regarding a Trans Memorial in Allen Gardens.  The result was overwhelmingly in favour of proceeding with these discussions.

The TTA also attended a meeting regarding the design of the washrooms for Allen Gardens and as a result the City and the architect agreed to implement single-stall washrooms.  The architect was very enthusiastic about the Trans Memorial project.  There is a good chance that the Trans Memorial be constructed during 2015.

It was noted that Allen Gardens is surrounded by trans energy on all sides.

The idea of honouring pioneers in the trans community who got us where we are today was discussed.  Many of these people have been forgotten.  Perhaps there could be a Walk of Fame down Church Street to the Memorial?

The success of past trans BBQ events in Allen Gardens was noted.  These events attracted a lot of low income people and were a very positive experience.  There is a community kitchen at Sherbourne, and there is a desire to have an annual trans meal.

The community has made it clear that they wish to see names of individuals included in the Trans Memorial.  Families often erase the chosen identities of trans people.  Perhaps this could be incorporated in a digital manner, with suitably rugged displays?  On the other hand vandalism and maintenance may be an issue with digital components.  Even metal plaques rust and decay and can be expensive to replace.

The idea of a tree of remembrance was discussed and was considered to be a good option.  This could be similar to the tree the 519 has.

The Memorial would be important for young people to draw strength from and to gain awareness of previous generations of trans people who pioneered so many changes.

Conduct in TTA Facebook Group

There was a discussion regarding the tone of conversation in the TTA Facebook page recently.  Many members have complained about certain posts, and some conversations have been very harsh.  Is this harsh dialogue driving people away from the TTA?  The TTA wishes to see open, respectful conversation and does not want to be heavy handed and acting as the Facebook Police.  However, we need to take action against repeat offenders.

Everyone should be able to put forward their point of view, but must respect other points of view also.  If the rules are broken it may be necessary to suspend individuals for a period of time.

It was confirmed that name calling and slurs are unacceptable discourse in the Facebook group.

It was noted that social media is often volatile and that that face-to-face meetings are often much more polite and restrained.  It was suggested that the TTA make the effort to hold more face-to-face meetings in future.

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