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Tuesday vigil pays homage to transgender people who’ve struggled with their identity

Cheryl Browne

By Cheryl Browne, Barrie Examiner

Rae Michelle Langdon hosted a Transgender Day of Remembrance at the DIY Art Collective on Toronto Street in Barrie recently. J.T. MCVEIGH PHOTO

Rae Michelle Langdon hosted a Transgender Day of Remembrance at the DIY Art Collective on Toronto Street in Barrie recently. J.T. MCVEIGH PHOTO

When Rae Michelle Langdon looks in a mirror, she sees a lovely young woman.

She’s waiting for the rest of the world to catch up to her vision.

Langdon, a local transgender woman, was born a male, but is currently transitioning to become her true self.

“You live in a state of agony if you’re going to transition, you can become preoccupied with it at times,” Langdon said.

Standing outside the former Bush Baby Interiors building on Toronto Street, the current DIY Arts Collective at 67 Toronto St., will be the venue for Tuesday night’s vigil for both the transgender people who made it, and those who committed suicide along the long road to transition.

Nationally named the Transgender Day of Remembrance, the circle memorial will remember those who lost the struggle with their identity. The statistics for people who discover, usually around puberty, that they feel differently than their peers — as if they’re living in the wrong body — are disturbing.

While they estimate as many as 77% contemplate ending their lives, more than 43% of transgender people have attempted suicide, according to Xtra, Canada’s gay and lesbian online news source.

“It’s hard. I wasn’t aware of the broader community. You see these stereotypes and many stay closeted because they don’t have anyone to talk to about it,” she said.

Tuesday’s vigil at DIY will reflect on acceptance and tolerance, she said.

“All events are about inclusivity. There’s a small transgender group in Simcoe County, maybe 10, but there’s a larger LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender) society here.”

Acceptance into the general population has been a long time coming. Langdon, who’s studying gender sexuality and psychology at Laurentian University, said in June, Bill 33 amended the Ontario Human Rights Code to allow gender markers to change.

Previously, if someone wanted to change the male to female identifier on their identification, they had to go through a costly bureaucratic nightmare that took years.

As of October, a simple request with a health practitioner’s signature offers the change of identification for $100.

“They ruled it was a huge financial barrier to self-expression,” she noted.

In June, when the Ontario Human Rights Act agreed to add prohibiting discrimination on the grounds of gender identity and gender expression to the act, additions to the Canada Human Rights Act were expected as well.

“Now we’re waiting for the Bill C279 ruling, that they’re hearing Nov. 20 and 22, this week.”

The bill passed second reading in June.

Everyone’s welcome to drop by the DIY on Toronto Street at 7 p.m. Tuesday for the Transgender Day of Remembrance.


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