Queerevents.ca notable queer dates - transgender day of visibility

Transgender Day of Visibility

Friday March 31st, 2023

International Transgender Day of Visibility (TDOV) occurs every year on March 31st. This day is dedicated to celebrating transgender people, their contributions to society and raising awareness of discrimination faced by transgender people worldwide.

The day was founded by US transgender activist Rachel Crandall of Michigan in 2009 as a reaction to the lack of recognition of transgender people, and citing the frustration that the only well-known transgender-centered day was the Transgender Day of Remembrance which mourned the murders of transgender people, but did not acknowledge and celebrate living members of the transgender community.

Read on to find more fun facts, interesting bits of history about Trans people in Canada and their contributions as well as helpful information to raise awareness and education about our trans community.

Notable Dates

  • March 31st - International Transgender Day of Visibility TDOV)
  • May 17th - International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia & Biphobia (IDAHOT)
  • 3rd Wednesday of October - International Pronouns Day
  • 1st Sunday in November - Trans Parent Day
  • 2nd Week of November - Transgender Awareness Week
  • November 20 - Transgender Day of Remembrance (TDOR)

Individuals Empowering Our Community

QueerEvents.ca - notable indviduals - Kiley May

Kiley May

Kiley May is Hotinonhshón:ni, Kanien’kehá:ka (Mohawk) and Turtle Clan from Six Nations of the Grand River territory, and is now rooted in Aterón:to (Toronto). She is a two-spirit Indigenous transgender multidisciplinary artist and storyteller, a writer and author, an actor, an emerging screenwriter and a filmmaker. Kiley is also an activist and educator, committed to equality, representation, diversity and inclusion.

 I want to shift the narrative of transgender representation from what historically has been tragic and victimizing to one that’s thriving and about love and happiness.- Kiley May (…

QueerEvents.ca - notable indviduals - Alec Butler

Alec Butler

Alec Butler is a Two-Spirit, Non-binary, Intersex activist and an award winning playwright, author and filmmaker, they write, direct, edit and perform in their videos and champions the DIY (Do-It-Yourself) and DIWO (Do-It-With-Others) aesthetic. Author of the queer novella Rough Paradise and the plays Medusa Rising, Cradle Pin, Shakedown and Black Friday - which was nominated for a Governor General Award.

Butler is a scholar in Indigenous Studies and Sexual Diversity Studies at the University of Toronto. Their research centres on Two-Spirit Queer Indigenous Literatures, Cultures, Communities and Politics. They are of Indigenous (Mi'kmaq) and Settler (…

QueerEvents.ca - queering bhm - Backxwash image

Ashanti Mutinta

Backxwash is the stage name adopted by Ashanti Mutinta who is the first transgender female artist to win the Polaris Music Prize, which is known to celebrate diversity and to support up-and-coming Canadian artists. Her winning album God Has Nothing To Do With This Leave Him Out Of It uses many references from metal bands and horror films, such as distorted samples of Black Sabbath’s singer Ozzy Osbourne, Led Zeppelin and David Lynch’s film Eraserhead.

“As an angry trans woman, I don’t know any other way I can rap.” - Backxwash

Growing up in a religious family in Zambia, she started making hip hop beats as a teenager…

QueerEvents.ca - notable indviduals - Aiyanna Maracle image

Aiyanna Maracle

Aiyanna Maracle (1950 - 2016),was a Haudenosaunee, trans, multi-disciplinary artist, scholar, educator, story-crafter and storyteller. Maracle was actively involved in the merging of Ogwehoweh art and culture into the Euro-centric world and consciousness. For 20+ years she sought that same inclusion for herself and other gender-variant folks by offering an alternate framework to the prevalent Euro-centric view of gender.

“There is no mirror for who I am. From necessity I became the mirror for all the younger ones.”

Describing herself in her article “A Journey in Gender” as a “transformed woman who loves…

QueerEvents.ca - notable indviduals - Ravyn Wngz image

Ravyn Wngz

Ravyn Wngz identifies as a Queer, 2 Spirit, Transcendent Mohawk Tanzanian, Bermudian. The racism she continually experienced while being an artist in predominantly white spaces prompted her to create safe spaces for black people, including the Ill Nana DiverseCity Dance Company y- a queer and trans multiracial dance company that aims to change the landscape of dance and provide accessible affirming dance education to the 2SLGBTQ+ community which she co-founded.

Currently, Ravyn Wngz is the artistic director of the OVA (Outrageous Victorious Africans) collective, which presents the voices of 2SLGBTQ+ individuals of African descent through dance and theater…

QueerEvents.ca - notable indviduals - Mirha Soleil ross

Mirha-Soleil Ross

Mirha-Soleil Ross (b. 1969) is a Métis trans sex worker, performance artist and activist. Raised in Montreal, she moved to Toronto and co-founded the pivotal queer zine Gendertrash From Hell with her partner Xanthra Phillippa Mackay. New issues of Gendertrash were published between 1993 and 1995, compiling original art, poetry, fiction and resource lists, all with the aim of giving a voice to the community.

Ross went on to helm Counting Past 2, the world’s first trans art festival, and developed a number of performance art pieces that sought to educate audiences about the realities of sex work and debunk stereotypes about trans identity.

QueerEvents.ca - notable indviduals - Susan Gapka image

Susan Gapka

Susan Gapka (b. 1950s) is a founding member and chair of the Toronto Trans Coalition Project which emerged from the advocacy work of the Trans Lobby Group. She was also the founder of the Trans Lobby Group, started in September 2001 with the goal of access to SRS and proper healthcare.

Susan helped lead the Ontario campaign to fund transition related surgeries, helped change the Vital Statistics Act so trans people's legal documents more accurately reflect their lived identity, and drafted and successfully campaigned to adopt legislation to amend the Ontario Human Rights Code and Canadian Human Rights Act to include 'gender identity' and 'gender…

QueerEvents.ca - notable indviduals - Julie Lemieux image

Julie Lemieux

On November 5th 2017, Julie Lemieux won 48% of the vote to become Mayor of Très-Saint-Rédempteur, a municipality in the Montérégie region of Quebec.

This marked the first time an openly transgender person was elected as mayor in any municipality across Canada and the first female mayor in the history of Très-Saint-Rédempteur.

“[My win] wasn’t the start of a movement, but the result of years of work by many to build tolerance in communities across the country.”[...] We're writing history and I have a lot to offer." - Julie Lemieux

QueerEvents.ca - notable indviduals - Kael McKenzie image

Kael McKenzie

Kael McKenzie (born 1971) is appointed to the Provincial Court of Manitoba making him the first transgender person appointed as a judge in Canada.

"I didn’t set out to be a trailblazer or to try to have courage. It just happened that way."

Kael McKenzie

He is a member of the Manitoba Métis Nation and has also served as the Manitoba chair of the Canadian Bar Association, and president of the provincial Rainbow Resource Centre for Manitoba's LGBT2Q+ community.

QueerEvents.ca - notable indviduals - viviane namaste image

Viviane Namaste

Viviane Namaste is a professor at Concordia University. In 2001 she received the Outstanding Book Award from the Gustavus Myers Center for her book entitled, Invisible Lives: The Erasure of Transsexual and Transgendered People. Namaste was also a director in the documentary Madame Lauraine's Transsexual Touch which deals with transsexual sex workers as well as sexual health and clientele. In 2009, she was awarded the "Canadian Award for Action on HIV/AIDS and Human Rights", which is awarded jointly by the Canadian HIV/AIDS Legal Network and Human Rights Watch.

QueerEvents.ca - notable indviduals - Alexandre Baril image

Alexandre Baril

Alexandre Baril was the first Francophone trans person in Canadian history to be employed as a professor specializing in trans studies to teach on sexual and gender diversity in French.

In 2011, Baril received the Lana St-Cyr Award from the Aide aux transsexuels et transsexuelles du Québec (ATQ) in recognition of the major role he played in organizing the first trans protest in Quebec history on June 17, 2010, in Montreal. Baril is described as one of the first trans researchers in Canada to publish work on trans issues from a transactivist perspective in the French language

QueerEvents.ca - notable indviduals - Jessica Platt image

Jessica Platt

Jessica Platt is a professional ice hockey player. She plays for the Toronto Furies in the Canadian Women's Hockey League (CWHL) and was the first transgender woman to play in the CWHL. Platt was the first professional female hockey player to come out as a transgender woman, and the second player in the professional women's hockey league to come out as transgender.

QueerEvents.ca - notable indviduals - Jamie Lee Hamilton image

Jamie Lee Hamilton

Jamie Lee Hamilton became the first openly transgender person to run for political office in Canada when she ran for Vancouver City Council in 1996. She also participated in Vancouver’s first Pride march. A community activist, Hamilton spent her life fighting on behalf of vulnerable populations. She was one of the first to ring the alarm bell to police and media about women going missing, and being murdered, from the city’s Downtown Eastside. Hamilton also served as a director of the Vancouver Pride Society and the Greater Vancouver Native Cultural Society.

QueerEvents.ca - notable indviduals - Rupert Raj image

Rupert Raj

Rupert Raj has a long history of working towards trans rights in Canada. Amongst his many accomplishments, he has founded three transgender publications including Canada’s first national transgender publication 'Gender Review'. He is also the founder of several trans organizations including the Association for Canadian Transsexuals (A.C.T.) in the late-1970s, when living in Vancouver, and the Foundation for the Advancement of Canadian Transsexuals (FACT) in 1978 while living in Calgary as a lobbying and educational organization on behalf of trans people. In June 1999 he co-founded a peer-support group for transsexual men and transsexual women at the 519 Community…

QueerEvents.ca - Notable QIPOC - Syrus Marcus Ware

Syrus Marcus Ware

Syrus Marcus Ware is a visual artist, community activist, researcher, youth-advocate and educator. He is currently a facilitator/designer for the Cultural Leaders Lab (Toronto Arts Council & The Banff Centre).

As a visual artist, Syrus works within the mediums of painting, installation and performance to challenge systemic oppression. Syrus’ work explores the spaces between and around identities; acting as provocations to our understandings of gender, sexuality and race. Syrus is part of the Black Triangle Arts Collective (BTAC), a visual arts collective dedicated to exploring disability, racial and economic justice.

Syrus has co-edited a book…

QueerEvents.ca - Notable QIPOC - Monica Forrester

Monica Forrester

Monica Forrester is a Program and Outreach co-ordinator for Maggie's Toronto Sex Workers Action Project. Since 1999, she has worked in various agencies to educate and make services accessible for trans* folks. She actively works to promote awareness and visibility of trans women. From living and working on the streets to being  instrumental in creating a drop-in and an outreach program for transpeople at the 519 to her current work as a program coordinator for Maggie’s Toronto Sex Workers Action Project, Forrester has long advocated for transgender people in Toronto. She was also part of advocating for trans women to be allowed into women’s shelters and in…

QueerEvents.ca - Notable QIPOC - Nik Redman

Nik Redman

Nik Redman is an artist, activist and community worker who was born in Montreal, Canada. Nik grew up in both Barbados and Canada.

He is a member of the GBQ Trans Men’s’ Working Group, part of Ontario Gay Men’s Sexual Health Alliance; the MaBwana Community Advisory Committee, the Prisoners Justice Action Committee (PJAC) and the Trans Fathers 2B Parenting Course Project Team. Nik was one of the online facilitators for the province-wide HIV/AIDS-themed Stigma campaign. Nik currently works as a Grievance Officer with the University of Toronto’s Local 1998 United Steelworkers Union. In addition, he works doing Anti-Harassment and Human Rights Training for the…

Milestones in the journey to Equal Rights & Acceptance


Arts, Culture, Media

The First Trans Festival

Counting Past 2 was a Trans Arts Festival that ran between 1997 and 2002 in Toronto, Ontario. It was founded in 1997 by activist/artist Mirha-Soleil Ross, in recognition of the distinctive cultural and economic situation of trans communities.

The festival's goal was to be more inclusive and encouraging of trans artists than mainstream gay and lesbian film festivals by centering trans voices, accepting less-polished work and including cabaret and performance components instead of restricting submissions to films.

It was the first festival of it's kind in the North America, and thought to be the first in the world.

Politics & Politicians

NWT Includes Gender Identity in Human Rights Act

The Northwest Territories became the first jurisdiction in Canada to explicitly add "gender identity" to its human rights legislation as a prohibited ground of discrimination.

Politics & Politicians

Supreme Courts Rules in Nixon Case

The facts from this case and the court decisions have been the cause of much debate regarding transgender rights. Kimberly Nixon is a transgender woman who filed a human rights complaint against Vancouver Rape Relief & Women's Shelter Society (VRRS) for discrimination. VRRS argued that Nixon, a transgender individual, did not have the proper life experiences as a woman from birth would, and could not volunteer as a peer rape counselor.

Although Nixon won the Human Rights Tribunal on the grounds that the society discriminated against her, subsequent appeals decided that the VRRS was not guilty of discrimination based on the group’s right of freedom of association. This meant that the group had the right to organize as a women-only space, irrespective of gender identity. On February 1, 2007 the Supreme Court of Canada dismissed Nixon’s request to appeal the decision.

The City of Vancouver stops municipal funding to VRRC as the organization does not meet its trans equality and inclusion criteria.


Toronto's First Trans March

The Trans March, originally started by Karah Mathiason began in response to Pride’s lack of organizing efforts for the Trans* Community.

The march, which was not recognized by Pride Toronto as an officially programmed event, was a short route that from Church & Bloor Streets to Church & Wellesley Streets.

When the march reached the Church and Wellsley Streets, they were met with large metal barricades lined up across the street. The marchers, disappointed and frustrated, pushed through the barricades, and finished the first ever Trans March inside the Village.

Politics & Politicians / Trailblazers, Activists

Alberta elects first non-binary politician

QueerEvents.ca - queer history - Estefan Cortes-Vargas

Estefan Cortes-Vargas (born 1991) is elected to the Legislative Assembly of Alberta becoming the first out non-binary politician. They are one of three out LGBT2Q+ people elected to the Alberta Legislature.

The Colombian born politician chose to not run for re-election in the 2019 elections.


Newfoundland and Labrador Trans March

QueerEvents.ca - queer history - newfoundland trans march 2015

Over 70 members of the trans community and allies marched through downtown St. Johns to shine a light on the issues that face trans people in Newfoundland and Labrador. Community activists voted at a community meeting in June to have a Trans March separate from the Pride Parade.

I believe this march is a demonstration of what Pride Week could and should be — community organizing and political action, without asking permission.

Alex Noel, Organizer

The march was an unsanctioned St.John’s Pride event and was held without a permit and follows on the heels of a smaller trans rally on July 13, 2014, attended by 10 community members that was organized by Jennifer McCreath in an attempt to raise awareness to some of the challenges still facing members of the trans community.

Politics & Politicians

Bill C-16: Canadian Human Rights Act expanded to Gender Identity & Expression

On June 19, Bill C-16 was passed by the federal government and received Royal Assent. The bill updated the Canadian Human Rights Act and the Criminal Code to include the terms "gender identity" and "gender expression." The legislation also makes it illegal to discriminate on the basis of gender identity or expression.

It also extends hate speech laws to include the two terms, and makes it a hate crime to target someone for being transgender. The bill also amends the sentencing principles section of the code so that a person's gender identity or expression can be considered an aggravating circumstance by a judge during sentencing.

Politics & Politicians

First transgender mayor elected

queerevents.ca - milestones in trans history - julie lemieux

Julie Lemieux won 48% of the vote to become Mayor of Très-Saint-Rédempteur, a municipality in the Montérégie region of Quebec.

This marked the first time a transgender person was elected as mayor in any municipality across Canada and the first female mayor in the history of Très-Saint-Rédempteur.

"We're writing history and I have a lot to offer."

Politics & Politicians

Bill 74 - Ontario Government Marks TDoR

This bill marks November 20th as the official Trans Day of Remembrance and requires the legislature to hold a minute of silence at 10:29 am each year in honour of trans people who have died as a result of anti-trans violence.

Ontario's government is the first to legislate recognition of the day.

Trailblazers, Activists

First trans person appointed judge in Canada

QueerEvents.ca - queer history - trans judge Kael McKenzie
Media Credit: Ian McCausland

Kael McKenzie (born 1971) is appointed to the Provincial Court of Manitoba making him the first transgender person appointed as a judge in Canada.

"I didn’t set out to be a trailblazer or to try to have courage. It just happened that way.

Kael McKenzie

He is a member of the Manitoba Métis Nation and has also served as the Manitoba chair of the Canadian Bar Association, and president of the provincial Rainbow Resource Centre for Manitoba's LGBT2Q+ community.

Science & Health

W.H.O declares transgender is not a mental disorder

On May 23, the World Health Organization (WHO) voted to remove 'transgender' from being designated a mental disorder.

The W.H.O will now use the term 'gender incongruence' to describe people whose gender identity is different from the gender they were assigned at birth. This term has been added to the sexual health category of the 11th revision of the International Statistical Classification of Diseases and Related Health Problems (ICD-11).


Protests Against Transphobia

QueerEvents.ca - queer history - transphobia protest at toronto public library
Media Credit: The Canadian Press

On October 29, hundreds gathered outside the Toronto Public Library to protest the library allowing their space to be used for an event by a controversial feminist writer with transphobic views. Toronto library officials have defended renting out the room for Megan Murphy’s appearance by saying she does not fall under the library’s definition of hate speech. Murphy believes trans women should not use public washrooms designated for women or compete in sporting events against cisgendered women. She claims trans women endanger cis women and women’s rights.

Having a transphobic speaker at the library endangers me because among other things they advocate ... that I'm a threat to other women. These statements cause people to fear trans women and act violently toward us in public spaces.

Gwen Benaway, author

In the aftermath of the protests many authors and queer organizers have refused to do events or engagements at the Toronto Public Library. The Canadian Association of Professional Academic Librarians issued a statement asserting that the Toronto Public LIbrary in allowing the talk in the name of intellectual freedom failed to adequately consider the impact that decision would play in perpetuating discrimination against the transgender community. It further committed to re-examine how the library community understands and deploys core values and principles.

Politics & Politicians

B.C. rules on Rights to Treatment for Gender Dysphoria

The B.C. Court of Appeal reaffirms a 15-year-old's right to undergo hormone treatment even without their parents’ consent, as long as they have been assessed by a health care provider to understand the nature, consequences, benefits and risks of the proposed treatment, and as long as the health care provider opines that the treatment is in the teenager’s best interests.

But the ruling also throws out part of a lower court order that said the father's misgendering of his son constituted "family violence" under the Family Law Act. A previous ruling by the B.C. The Supreme Court judge declared that identifying the teen as a girl would be considered family violence under the Family Law Act, given the harm it had caused him. That has been struck down by the new ruling.

Politics & Politicians

Quebec Civil Code declared discriminatory against Trans community

On January 28th, Justice Gregory Moore of the Superior Court of Quebec declared six (6) provisions of the province's Civil Code unconstitutional.

Filed initially in 2014, the Centre for Gender Advocacy at Concordia University sought to invalidate 11 articles of the Quebec Civil Code, arguing that they violated rights under the Quebec Charter of Human Rights and Freedoms and the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

The Court deemed unconstitutional that the requirement that people can only be designated as either male or female. It also declared that trans parents have a right to change their designation on their children’s birth certificate and to be recognized as “parent” and not just “mother” or “father”.  It struck down the requirement to be a Canadian citizen in order to change one’s name or gender.  The Court also struck down the requirement for a medical evaluation for trans youth; however the Court unfortunately did not strike down the parental veto over name changes. Disappointingly, the Court did not strike down the requirement to designate a sex at birth without exception, including for intersex individuals.

Queer Knowledge: Online Educational Resources

Stop Transphobia, Speak Up!


Change requires education and people brave enough to take a stand and be heard.


  • When you hear and see transphobia, speak up! Silence does nothing except allow the hate and bullying to continue.
  • Show your support for a local trans-centric organizations by volunteering or donating towards trans initiatives.
  • When trans rights & freedoms are in jeopardy contact your local government official to be heard. (Find out how to contact Ontario MPP)
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