BC Association of Community Response Networks

International Transgender Day of Visibility in Nanaimo


Large group of people gathered outside to mark International Transgender Day of Visibility - Vancouver Island.

Jane Osborne, BC CRN Regional Mentor of Central and North Vancouver Island, shares with us Nanaimo’s event on the 2023 International Transgender Day of Visibility. The day is held annually to celebrate the lives and contributions of trans people, while also drawing attention to the poverty, discrimination and violence the community faces. It was also an intergenerational event that brought out allies of all ages, families and the local mayor. Here’s Jane’s story.

March 31, 2023, or International Transgender Day of Visibility, dawned wet, windy and cold in Nanaimo. We started the day at Literacy Central Nanaimo making banners and buttons for the occasion and then our intergenerational group of marchers headed up the hill to City Hall.  

The attendees ranged in age from young children to the great-grandparent generation. At City Hall, we listened to an address from Mayor Leonard Krog standing beside the transgender flag which had been raised in recognition of this special day.  

Why were we there? I spoke to a mother of three who has a transgender son. She said that so many parents in her generation, and many of her own relatives from previous generations, were still very wary and unwelcoming of her trans child. For her, it was about joining in solidarity with a group of people who want to connect and support our transgender community.  

Many of the transgender people and their allies who marched on that day have been ostracized by their families of origin. My young Gen Z colleagues, Qui and Evangelina, have been forced to seek out families of choice that support their identities. They are burdened with difficult experiences and memories of hateful actions, including death, as consequences of simply living their full identity on a day-to-day basis. 

Just Tuesday last week [early May], the BC Supreme Court issued an injunction against a protest group that had hung a number of banners on the Mountain Highway Overpass in North Vancouver. Amongst the banners was an anti-trans one that read, “Gender Ideology = Child Sex Grooming.” 

Pat and I come from a generation of LGBTQ2+ people who had very similar experiences. Gay men were criminalized, incarcerated and equated to pedophiles in the 1980s in Canada when many people regarded AIDs as a “gay” disease. Connections between queer seniors and LGBTQ2+ youth, particularly trans youth, are a form of healing; a way for multiple generations of stigmatized people to build families of choice where they can freely and fully express their identities.

Learn more about being a transgender person in Canada