Proud transgender speaker looks back on memorable day

Transgender Day of Remembrance reminds community of the 3,000 people murdered in the past 10 years due to transphobia.

November is the busiest month of the year for Leon Tsai, a 19 year-old transgender woman.

Besides being a transgender woman, Tsai has another identity: a transgender immigrant. She grew up in Taiwan.

Watch Tsai’s explaining her transgender experience:

Tsai is a well-known LGBTQ+ public speaker. She took the initiative because she saw no stories like hers.

“It felt lonely as a trans woman because you don’t see a lot of people like you.” – Leon Tsai

By speaking publicly, she wants to ensure transgender folks can have a reputation in the society.

November is meaningful to Tsai because Nov. 20. is Transgender Day of Remembrance. Yearly on this day, respect is paid to those who were killed due to transphobia – bad feelings towards transsexuality.

Number of transgender victims murdered from 2016-2018. (TIFFANY FUNG/ TORONTO OBSERVER)

This year on Nov. 20., Tsai spoke at Western University. Her mother and brother attended the speech.

The event was hosted by PrideWestern, a student council group that serves gender diversity people.

A PrideWestern organizer said, “It’s really important to listen to these voices that are sometimes marginalized.”

Sarah Conway was a bi-sexual attendee. “Even if it was about trans issues, there were stuff that I could apply to myself such as rebirthing,” she stated.

Tsai spoke about her transgender journey, and divided it into three phases: sexuality, gender identity, rebirth.

Sexuality: coming out as gay then transforming into a woman. “It was an exiting and difficult time as I was also dealing with issues of bullying and family conflicts.”

Gender identity: exploring womanhood and describing herself as a mermaid. “The sea for mermaids represents a new world the mermaids are discovering, which can be also reflected on my new interest in women and gender studies.”

Rebirth: becoming proud of her sexuality. “This is what it means to give birth to yourself: to grow and blossom despite the world’s backlash.”

Tsai posing in the water. She describes herself as a mermaid because mermaids don’t have genitals and aren’t limited to a certain sex. (COURTESY MARK ESSNER)

Last year on the same day, Tsai spoke at Toronto City Hall’s Transgender Flag Raising Ceremony.

Watch Tsai speaking at Toronto City Hall:

“Life doesn’t get better but we get stronger.” Tsai is proud of who she is because she made it, or in her words: “gave birth” to herself.