Fierté Simcoe Pride holds second annual Trans Pride March in Orillia
Trans Pride March local grand marshal Ivy Beaton addresses parade participants Thursday at Orillia's Couchiching Beach Park while international grand marshal Michelle Emson looks on. (SUBMITTED)
Fierté Simcoe Pride wraps up a busy week with an awards celebration in Midland Saturday.
But on Thursday evening, the organization held its second annual Trans Pride March in Orillia to raise awareness about transgender individuals and celebrate some of the milestones reached in recent years.
“The original reason was to highlight some of the local work underway on trans rights,” Fierté Simcoe Pride president Brandon Amyot said of last year's inaugural march.
“We felt it was important. It's also a time to celebrate some of our accomplishments and have our voices heard.”
Amyot said Thursday's march attracted about 40 spectators, with close to 70 marchers making their way from Veterans' Memorial Park to Couchiching Beach Park.
“We had a number of people who didn't come out,” Amyot said, noting some people don't yet feel safe enough to come out in public and be “loud and proud” — an issue the organization wants to change.
“We need to create spaces locally in the community. Inroads are being made.”
Throughout the week, events were organized across Simcoe County to ensure there are “safe and inclusive communities … that support and unite the lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans (LGBT) community.”
As an example of work still left to do, Amyot said transgender residents living throughout the county still experience issues when trying to secure employment since many employees don't have proper policies or facilities in place dedicated to supporting those identifying as trans.
“A majority of trans individuals make well below the poverty line,” Amyot said.
But on a positive note, Amyot is excited about Saturday evening's third annual Simcoe County LGBT Community Awards gala taking place at Midland's Georgian Bay Native Friendship Centre.
“We have 13 nominees this year in six different categories,” Amyot said, noting Orillia Soldiers' Memorial Hospital is nominated in the positive community organization category for its work developing an LGBT task force, while CFB Borden, Barrie and Tiny Township are each nominated in the positive community category.
Other categories include youth of the year, person of the year, positive business and honourary award for literature.