To mark the Transgender Day of Remembrance on November 20, Toronto Police raised the Trans Flag at headquarters.
The day is set aside to memorialize those who have been murdered as a result of transphobia and to draw attention to the continued violence endured by the Transgender community.
Chief James Ramer said the flag raising is more than just a symbolic gesture.
“It’s a demonstration of our commitment to the Trans community,” he said. “As we reflect back on this day, we think about those individuals who have been victims of transphobic acts of violence. We also know that there have been incidents that have caused the community to be concerned and distrust the police.”
Ramer assured the community that the Service is making every effort to change that impression.
“The path is clear,” he said. “It’s about meaningful change and we are committed to that process.”
The flag raising resonated with Deputy Chief Barbara McLean, who attended alongside the entire Command Team.
“It really does show that if you stick around long enough, you get to see these real moments where we connect with compassion,” said McLean, an openly gay member of the Service. “What I really like about today is that we have other people stepping forward and recognizing that our interactions with the Trans community is important and making and organizing and doing things such as today to remember those who have been victims of transphobia, whether it be through violence or tragically where they felt the only outcome for them was death by suicide. No one should ever feel like that in our city as rich and as diverse at it is.”
McLean spoke about an exciting that the Service, in conjunction with Trans community members and the agencies that serve them, are working on.
The Gender Diversity and Trans Inclusion project is led by the Equity, Inclusion & Human Rights unit.
“Having been part of some of the consultations earlier this year and late last year, what I find encouraging is that new people are coming to the table,” said McLean. “That, to me, says that members of the Trans community and the agencies that serve them want to be part of the solution and help us be better.
“When we look at our core value of connecting with compassion and have I treated people the way that they would like to be treated, this is our core value in action. This is listening to members of the community say, ‘This is how I would like to interact with the Toronto Police Service’. When we know more, we do better. That is what this is really all about.”
Const. Carmen Wong, the Service’s LBGTQ2S liaison officer, said Trans people often experience bigotry and violence.
“They are even marginalized within the LGBTQ2S community and they are even more vulnerable if they are racialized,” she said. “As the liaison officer, it is important for me to build relationships with our city’s Trans communities so they feel seen and heard and so they know they can turn towards our police and have confidence in the service they are going to receive.”
Another flag-raising ceremony was held at 51 Division with Wong and Const. Myles Glazier, a Trans member of the Service, in attendance along with local officers. The downtown east Division is home to the Church-Wellesley Village that is the historic home of the LGBTQ2S community.
The flags were lowered to half mast after the ceremony in honour of Ontario Provinical Police Const. Marc Hovingh, a 28-year veteran of the police service and father of four, who was killed in the line of duty on Nov. 19.