Every year on Transgender Day of Remembrance, November 20, people around the world commemorate the lives of transgender people who have been killed due to transphobic violence, hatred and prejudice. They mourn and honour the lives of transgender individuals, and raise awareness of hate crimes against transgender people in light of the violent reality that so many continue to face here in Ontario, across Canada, and around the world.
There is no way of knowing exactly how many transgender people have been killed each year, due to major underreporting, and continued incorrect use of a transgender person’s gender identity and chosen name, however it is estimated that more than 3,000 transgender people have been murdered globally since 2008. Furthermore, transgender women of colour experience disproportionate rates of violence, poverty, and homelessness.
“Transphobia has serious consequences on the lives of transgender people,” said Dr. Alex Abramovich Independent Scientist, CAMH Institute for Mental Health Policy Research. “Imagine what it would feel like for people to constantly refer to you by the wrong name and wrong pronouns every single day of your life. To have your government identification questioned every time someone looks at it because your gender identity does not align with your photo or name on the card.”
It is well documented that stigma, discrimination, and structural violence negatively impacts the health and wellbeing of transgender individuals, leading to a high prevalence of suicide, depression, anxiety, and substance use. Many of the institutional systems currently in place do not properly recognize transgender people, but rather sort every individual into one of only two categories: female or male. This makes it very difficult to accurately determine how many people identify as transgender, understand experiences of violence, and assess health outcomes.
Through his work, Dr. Abramovich aims to create more inclusive systems and ensure that gender identity information is routinely collected in administrative data, electronic health records, and provincial and federal surveys. He recently published an article titled Transgender-inclusive care in the Canadian Medical Association Journal offering health care providers tips on how to support and provide care for transgender people. He is also currently leading a first-ever study investigating the health service utilization and health outcomes among transgender individuals in Ontario. Its findings will help produce new knowledge with the potential to transform the understanding and treatment of mental illness and mental health care amongst the trans population. Preliminary study findings have revealed high rates of health service use—including hospitalizations and emergency department visits—due to mental health and self-harm related reasons.
“I encourage everyone to take some time to think about what we all can do to better serve the transgender community in fighting against discrimination, hatred, and violence,” added Dr. Abramovich. “All people should have the ability to go to work and school, and access public bathrooms, hospitals, and healthcare facilities safely. Every year on Transgender Day of Remembrance, I look forward to a future where we no longer have to gather on November 20th because each and every one of us finally lives in freedom, with dignity and respect.”
Lean more about the CAMH Institute for Mental Health Policy Research.
Learn more about the CAMH Gender Identity Clinic, providing specialty services to both individuals and their primary care practitioners in Ontario in regard to issues related to gender identity and expression.