Trans Day of Remembrance was marked at 51 Division with personal stories of struggle and a professional commitment to serve the Trans communities.
For Lisa Marshall and Myles Glazier, the day marks a personal and emotional battle that has been overcome but also a struggle that is ongoing for many others.
Marshall, a five-year Parking Enforcement Officer, was told by her daughter a year ago that she actually identified as a male.
“She told me she discovered in therapy the source of her depression, the cause of her attempted suicides and the slow transition of the happy-go-lucky, outgoing and confident child to the brooding, isolated, depressive young adult. She was actually a he,” said Marshall, noting in the moment she paused after hearing the news that her mind raced to the fear she had for her child and her mother’s own reaction to her coming out as a lesbian at age 21. “My mom feared the world would be hard for me. I said to her at the time ‘Mom, if every parent just loved her own child we wouldn’t have to worry about the rest of the world.’”
So at the end of that pause she asked: “Do you have a new name?”
Now her son Max is a confident and assured young man and Marshall is thankful that from her own experience she knew what to say in that moment but has had to adjust herself to the idea and still missteps at times.
“Gender is an expression of how we feel about ourselves. But from the moment we’re born and our biological sex is revealed the rest of the world imposes on us what the expression should be, should look like or how we should behave or express it according to them,” says Marshall, noting our ignorance as a society is costing lives. “Since embracing this identity as a male he now fully feels like himself at last. At peace. Whole.”
New Constable Myles Glazier, who has served just over a month in 23 Division, feels fortunate to have overcome the depression and debilitating anxiety he lived with before coming out to his family and friends and transitioning to a man.
“I wanted to recognize my brothers and sisters who are not here because they don’t feel accepted, out of fear or don’t have the support of friends and family. It’s my hope that through a day like this we’ll bring awareness of Trans issues but also to assure people in the community that support is out there,” said Glazier, who has felt accepted as the first openly Trans member of the Toronto Police Service.
“It’s emotional. Hearing Lisa speak. Her son talking about what he and she went through. It brought up a lot of feelings that you put in the back of your mind,” said Glazier, who raised the Trans flag alongside Deputy Chief Barbara McLean at the end of the ceremony.
Trans Day of Remembrance is an internationally recognized day to celebrate and honour the lives of trans-identified people who have passed away due to transphobia, hate crimes, illness, substance use, suicide, or murder.
For the officers at 51 Division, who police the Church St. Village, it is an opportunity to reaffirm themselves as allies to the Trans communities.
Supt. Peter Moreira said Sgt. Henry Dyck and Church St. Neighbourhood Officers had the idea to mark the Trans Day of Remembrance at the Division to reach out to the community.
“This is a segment of the community that is under-represented and over-victimized time and again,” Moreira says. “Today is a symbol of the work we intend to do in the community, how we respond with sensitivity not only outward-facing but inward-facing with our own colleagues. As we take these steps and make these connections we are going to help people. We are all human beings and deserve the same respect and dignity and police response.”
Deputy Chief Barbara McLean says seeing the Trans flag raised outside of City Hall and police headquarters and closer to the community is heartening.
“It’s important that we lost our brothers and sisters, our family members our friends for no other reason than because of who they are – that’s an incredibly tragic statement,” says McLean. “It’s a day of remembrance and we shouldn’t lose sight of that. But let’s also use it as a call to action. Our goal is for better outcomes for our community through human services. We can only get there by working together.”
McLean, who is openly gay, said it’s important to have symbolic days like these at the Service.
“It symbolizes that narrative around a position in law enforcement for a person in the Trans communities is changing. We serve everybody and welcome everyone, while we know that, not everyone hears that message,” she says.
Labels divide us, says Trans activist and author Christine Newman, who also spoke at the ceremony.
“Labels are how you keep distance between you and me,” she said. “I look around the room and see people playing many roles. Brother, mother, son, boss. But there is one label we all have in common: human.”