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Trans awareness

Two trans people sitting down reading and having a conversation

The trans awareness movement brings visibility to issues commonly faced by transgender individuals. 

It is also an opportunity for allies to take action by educating others about trans experiences, stories and achievements, and advocating against prejudice, discrimination and violence that disproportionately affects transgender folk.

Trans Black Lives Matter movement

  • The Black Lives Matter movement shed light on the discrimination faced by Black people, including Black members of the LGBTQ community. Efforts to ensure that Black lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer folk were not excluded from the narrative resulted in the launch of the Trans Black Lives Matter movement.
  • Black trans individuals possess intersecting identities that make them extraordinarily more likely to experience discrimination and physical and sexual violence, whether on the streets, at school or work, at home or at the hands of government officials.
  • Black trans individuals are often left out of the conversation when it comes to their human rights and experiences of discrimination which differ from the experiences of Black cisgendered people and white transgender people.
A person wearing a mask holding a sign marked. Black Lives Matter, Black Trans Lives Matter.

Notable trans folk in Canada 

  • Elliot Page (1987- ) is a prolific actor and the first openly transgender man to appear on the cover of Time magazine. He has received an Oscar nomination, an Emmy nomination, two British Academy Film and Television Awards and a Satellite Award. 
  • Julie Lemieux (1972- ) became the first openly transgender mayor in Canada and the first woman to become mayor in Très-Saint-Rédempteur, Quebec when she was elected to office in 2017. 
  • Kael McKenzie (1971- ) had a long career in military, law and activism. In 2015, he became the first openly transgender person to be appointed a judge in Canada. 
  • Jessica Platt (external link)  (1989- ) is a player for the Toronto Furies in the Canadian Women's Hockey League. She is the first openly trans woman in North American professional hockey.
  • Rupert Raj (1952- ) is a transgender Canadian of Indian and Polish descent. Raj is a psychotherapist working with the LGBTQI+ community, a transgender activist and an author. He founded three transgender publications and several organizations to uplift and provide resources to members of the trans community. 
  • Jackie Shane (1940-2019) was a pioneering transgender performer who was prominent in the Toronto music scene in the 1960s. Shane was a Grammy-award nominated artist who became known for challenging stereotypes, breaking down barriers and openly celebrating her sex and sexuality. 
  • Vivek Shraya (1981- ) is a renowned Indian Canadian artist who works in various art forms including dance, photography, film, theater and writing. She is a bestselling author, a seven-time Lambda Literary Award finalist, a Pride Toronto Grand Marshal and a passionate advocate for trans rights and trans issues. 


Definitions and key concepts

Gender identity

  • Gender identity (external link)  is a person’s internal and individual experience of gender. It is a person’s sense of being a woman, a man, both, neither or anywhere along the gender spectrum. A person’s gender identity may be the same as or different from their birth-assigned sex.

Gender expression

  • Gender expression (external link)  is how a person expresses or presents their gender. This can include behaviour and outward appearance such as dress, hair, make-up, body language and voice. A person’s chosen name and pronoun are also common ways of expressing gender.

Gender non-conforming 

Nonbinary people 

  • Nonbinary is a term that can mean different things to different individuals. It can be used as an umbrella term, encompassing many gender identities that don’t fit into the man-woman binary. Some experience their gender as both man and woman, and others experience their gender as neither man nor woman.


  • Transphobia (external link)  is the fear, hatred, disbelief, disgust or dismissal of people who are transgender, thought to be transgender, or whose gender expression doesn’t conform to traditional gender roles. It describes any attitude, feeling or behavior that stigmatizes trans people, denies their identity, or treats them as unequal or less than human. 


  • Transgender or trans is a term to describe people whose gender identity differs from the sex they were assigned at birth.

Transgender man 

  • A person whose sex assigned at birth was female but whose gender identity is male. These identities can refer to someone who was surgically assigned female at birth, in the case of intersex people, but whose gender identity is male. 

Transgender woman

  • A person whose sex assigned at birth was male but whose gender identity is female. These identities can also refer to someone who was surgically assigned male at birth, in the case of intersex people, but whose gender identity is female.


  • Transmisogynoir (external link)  is a term coined by writer Trudy as the specific oppression of Black trans feminine people. It refers to incidents where anti-Blackness, cissexism and misogyny form a unique system of oppression. The term originates from ‘misogynoir,’ coined by Black queer feminist Moya Bailey to address the unique experience of misogyny directed toward Black women in American visual and popular culture. This concept comes from the theory of intersectionality. 


  • Transitioning (external link)  is the process of changing the way a person looks and is perceived on the exterior to reflect the gender they identify with on the inside. 
  • Social transition can include an individual: 
    • ‘coming out,’ or becoming aware of and informing others of aspects of their trans identity 
    • changing their name, socially or legally
    • choosing to use different pronouns that match their gender identity
    • using a public washroom that matches their gender identity
    • making changes to their physical appearance such as how they dress, style their hair and/or binding, packing, tucking or padding (external link) 
  • Medical transition can include an individual:
    • beginning hormone therapy 
    • getting breast implants or male chest reconstruction (also known as ‘top-surgery’) 
    • getting a hysterectomy (removal of internal female reproductive organs) or orchiectomy (removal of testes)
    • getting phalloplasty, metoidioplasty or penile inversion vaginoplasty (also known as ‘bottom-surgery’)
    • getting a tracheal shave or facial feminization surgery to reduce the appearance of an Adam’s apple and/or soften facial features

Annual observances

Transgender Awareness Week 

  • Each year between November 13-19, transgender awareness week seeks to raise visibility about the experiences, discrimination, stories and achievements of individuals who are transgender. 

Transgender Day of Remembrance (TDOR)

  • Annual observance on November 20 that honours the memory of trans folk whose lives were lost due to transphobic violence.
  • TDOR was started in 1999 by transgender advocate Gwendolyn Ann Smith to honour the memory of Rita Hester, a transgender woman who was killed in 1998. 

Transgender Day of Visibility 

  • Transgender Day of Visibility takes place annually on March 31.
  • This day is dedicated to celebrating trans people and raising awareness of the discrimination that is faced by the trans community.
Two people posing for the camera holding signs stating. Black Trans Lives Matter, Trans Rights are Human Rights.

Facts and figures

  • The 2018 Survey on Safety in Public and Private Spaces (external link)  reports that approximately 75,000 Canadians are trans or non-binary, representing 0.24% of the Canadian population aged 15 and older.
  • More than one in four trans folk have faced a bias-driven assault, and rates are higher for trans women and trans people of colour. 
  • 2021 marks the most deadly year recorded with 375 transgender people killed, most of whom were Black or Latinx. One in four of those murdered were killed in their own homes.
  • 85% of known transgender homicide victims in 2017 were misgendered in initial reports of their deaths. 
  • The 2019 Canadian Youth Trans and Non-binary Health Survey (external link)  reports the following findings for trans and non-binary youth in Ontario:
    • 45% reported that they are living in their correct gender full-time, 41% part-time, while 14% reported never living in their correct gender
    • 73% needed mental health services in the past year but did not get care
    • 72% do not feel their family cares about their feelings
    • 84% never participated in physical activities with a coach outside of school
    • 87% do not feel comfortable discussing their trans and/or gender affirming health care needs with a health practitioner they do not know