Every year, 20 November marks the Transgender Day of Remembrance to honour the lives lost due to transgender violence.
This year, the Borden Pride Network (BPN) held its third annual ceremony and raised the Transgender Flag to raise awareness for the continued violence towards transgender people, and foster inclusivity within the Borden community.
“No one should have to live under the constant threat of violence,” said Col Jonathan Michaud, Commander CFB Borden and Military Personnel Generation Training Group (MPGTG) at the ceremony on 19 November. “Being able to express one’s identity, and to have the support and understanding of those around you, is something that is fundamentally linked to our human rights, and that we all need to strive towards.”
Cpl Lynette Dang shared her personal story as a transgender woman in the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) with those gathered. She joined the military in 2015 before transitioning, first opening up to two close friends, and then leadership, about her plan to transition.
“I’m not sure why I did it, but I guess when you’re surrounded by your course mates 24 hours, seven days a week, and enduring extreme hardships away from your loved ones, you tend to open up to newfound friends more quickly,” she said. “I was nervous, but they quickly dispelled any fears I had about any negative reactions.”
She recalls the experience as “a liberating moment”. Since then, she went on to become a founding member of the Borden Pride Network, where she has shared her story frequently with Borden members and connected with pride communities across the province. She has also experienced the incredibly positive and welcoming reception in postings overseas during her military career since transitioning.
“We here at the Borden Pride Network will continue to pave the way in the CAF so that everyone in the country will have a community where they feel accepted,” said Cpl Dang. “We will work to do our best with our communities around our bases, because with Pride we are all in this together.”
Col Michaud echoed Borden’s ongoing commitment to being part of this positive change.
“Borden proudly supports all of its members, civilian and military,” said Col Michaud. “We are committed to fostering safety, diversity, and inclusion for all.”
But the flag raising is just one part of a much larger picture.
“[T]o truly honour those who have tragically lost their lives, we cannot stop at one speech, or even one day of remembrance, and then move on. We must take the time to listen, reflect, support, take responsibility, and strive to make meaningful changes,” Col Michaud said.
In 2016, the Borden Pride Network was formed. Since then, Borden now also delivers the Positive Space Ambassador course to promote a safe and inclusive work environment for all, regardless of their sexual orientation, gender identity, or gender expression.
By: Emily Nakeff, Editor