On Sunday, February 22nd, Toronto police responded to a call in Toronto’s East End, and arrived to find an unresponsive woman – 26 year old Sumaya Dalmar, a well-known woman in the Toronto trans community – who was pronounced dead at the scene.
For two days, social media has been erupting. The hashtags #BlackTransLivesMatter, #JusticeForSumaya and #RIPSumayaYsl have been going strong, with an outpouring of grief and outrage as well as injustice at the total lack of media attention.
While Sumaya’s death has not yet been pronounced a homicide, or even “suspicious,” it comes at a time of particularly horrifying violence against the trans community. At this point in 2015 (in the US), not a week has gone by where a gender non-conforming person of colour has not been killed.
For the Canadian news media (with the exception of the National Post and some smaller, independent news outlets) to not report on Sumaya’s death is sickening. The long history of violence against the transgender community in Canada is more than enough to warrant the media’s attention. The fact that in Ontario, 20% of trans people have experienced physical or sexual assault due to their identity means that the media needs to take note. They need to do their part to protect our vulnerable citizens, and to stand with the trans community in times of need.
To spend two days reporting on the so-called (and clearly not) #FeministOscars, Patricia Arquette’s speech on equality, screenwriter Graham Moore’s speech on anti-bullying, and other “empowering” pursuits of social justice, but to stay silent on Sumaya Ysl is an attack of its own. It is saying to the trans community that their stories – regardless of whether this ends up being a homicide or not – are not worth telling.
To remain silent is to condone. Saying nothing says it all.
Just heard about the murder of #SumayaYsl in Toronto. I’m so shocked I’m hearing this through social media. Allahu naxariisto.
— Magol Fatima Ali (@MagolFatima) February 24, 2015
— Leila (@_LeeLaw) February 24, 2015
A GoFundMe campaign has been started to collect donations for a memorial, and a service “in memory of her life” will take place on March 3rd at The 519. Head to the Facebook Page for the memorial has more details.
You May Also Be Interested In…