We See You: Shouts to Our Toronto Trans Kin, Killing the Game
Let’s be real: single days of celebration or acknowledgement, when it comes to our identities, are pretty weird, amirite? So skimpy. So scanty. A part-time recognition for a full-time job! The goal is to honour the uniqueness that each of us brings to this tapestry of existence 24/7, 365. March 31, 2019 was Trans Day of Visibility, and we want to shout out some dope trans figures in Toronto who are making the city a better, brighter, and much cooler place. And then we want to keep shouting them out and bigging them up the rest of the week, month, and year. Because that’s the goal, right? 24/7, 365 visibility, appreciation, and support for our trans siblings – in this city and all over this globe – fighting 24/7, 365 to live their most authentic lives. So let’s get started…
LeRoi is a parent, educator, curriculum writer, activist, and instrumental figure in the Toronto chapter of Black Lives Matter. He has worked with youth for 16 years, not only as an educator, but as a facilitator and arts program coordinator. LeRoi has taught at the Africentric Alternative School here in Toronto for the past nine years and is the founding director of the BLMTO Freedom School – a three-week summer program for children aged four to ten that teaches Afrocentric, diasporic, and Black Canadian history within a queer-positive, gender/self-affirming, and resistant pedagogical framework. LeRoi has demonstrated true dedication to the advancement and prosperity of Black communities in Toronto through his work with youth.
Demīyah Vanessa Pérez
Demīyah, quite appropriately described by her Instagram handle, @demiigoddesss, is a multimedia artist, model, and creative who’s beginning to make waves in the Toronto underground scene. When she’s not creating content via her social media outlets, you can often find Demīyah walking a runway; serving ultimate face in front of the camera; documenting her experiences, community, and environment from behind the camera; or busting a mean twerk, tictoc, or bubble at your fave parties. Her presence in the city cultivates new perspective and aims to shift the transfeminine narrative. Keep your eyes open for what she’s got in store.
Tyler is the owner of MPLCuts, an inclusive barbershop located on College Street in Little Italy. Barbershops have long been venues for community discourse, camaraderie, and kinship – but they can also be uncomfortable places for queers, especially those who don’t subscribe to the hypermasculinized aesthetic that many shops promote. The wrong shop can feel like a real bummer, or actively unsafe. Lumb opened MPLCuts with this in mind, offering a safe space for members of the LGBTQ+ community to come and get a fresh line-up, trim, or fade. MPLCuts also offers sliding-scale pricing, to stay true to barbershop-vs-salon-pricing and to keep things accessible.
Kai Cheng Thom
Kai Cheng is a writer, poet, performance artist, and social worker with a storytelling ability that must have been imbued by her ancestors – it’s that rich. She’s a winner of the Dayne Ogilvie Prize for LGBTQ emerging writers and a Lambda nominee, for her novel Fierce Femmes and Notorious Liars: A Dangerous Trans Girl's Confabulous Memoir. In addition, Kai Cheng has released a collection of poetry titled a place called No Homeland. Her works are both biographical and the product of imagination: examining the intersectional nuances of her own Chinese Canadian queer experience while creating new worlds for us to explore.
Coco is a rising DJ star in the city’s music scene. Her musical style is genre-bending and club forward – she knows how to select the beats that slap – and she’s lent her talents to many of Toronto’s biggest and baddest jams, gracing Toronto Pride stages as well as NXNE. Coco has played with some local heavy hitters and several international club-music powerhouses: DJs and producers such as Chippy Nonstop, Total Freedom, UNiiQ3, and Bambii – just to name a few. Sample Coco’s musical musings, and keep your ears to the ground (pun intended) for when she plays next.