Last week the Toronto trans community lost a shining light. Trans activist Julie Berman was murdered by a man who, according to news reports, was not known in the LGBTQ community. Toronto Police Service have changed him with second degree murder. His name is available in news reports, but I will not use it here, for I don’t think he deserves any notoriety. Autopsy results revealed the cause of death was blunt force trauma. Police have not so far suggested any motive, so unless it comes out at his trial, we may never know whether that Julie was trans had any bearing on her death.
It is only within the past year I’ve become involved with trans issues and did not know Julie, partly because I don’t live in Toronto. Interviews with people who knew her show that she was extremely active in the fight against transphobia and now that voice has been silenced. Even though I didn’t know her personally, I feel her loss. She was a sister in the broadest sense of the word and as with any extended family, the loss of one is a loss for all.
I noticed one encouraging sign in the media coverage of this terribly sad event. Whether it be radio, television, online or print, not once was Julie misgendered. While it is to be expected that those from the community who were interviewed would identify her correctly, the media also did so. From my readings I know this is not always done in American reports, so I wonder if this is one more example of the differences between Canadian and American reporting.
The trans community in Toronto and beyond has had a powerful voice taken from us and it is up to us to see that her work continues.