Candles of remembrance for Transgender KillingsSafeguarding Transgender Rights Exemplifies the Social Element of ESG Investing

Today, November 20, is commemorated by GLAAD as the Transgender Day of Remembrance. It marks the end of Transgender Awareness Week, this year from November 13-19.

GLAAD begins their commemoration this way:

Transgender Day of Remembrance (TDOR) is an annual observance on November 20 that honors the memory of the transgender people whose lives were lost in acts of anti-transgender violence.

This is a day of true tragedy as there are documented cases of well over 300 trans people already killed in 2023 around the world.

Why do we observe these atrocities on November 20?

According to GLAAD:

Transgender Day of Remembrance (TDOR) was founded in 1999 by transgender advocate Gwendolyn Ann Smith as a vigil to honor Rita Hester, a transgender woman who was killed in 1998. The vigil commemorated the one year anniversary of Hester’s death and all the transgender people lost to violence that year. That initial event began the world-wide observance that is the annual Transgender Day of Remembrance.

Individual killings are not the only way that anti-transgender discrimination shows up in our society. We all know about the active legislative efforts across the United States and Canada to attack our transgender friends and relatives. There is even a website dedicated to tracking this specific issue in the United States.

And Canada is not immune to this issue. Efforts at the provincial level in both New Brunswick and Saskatchewan demonstrate that.

In fact, in New Brunswick Kelly Lamrock, the provincial child and youth advocate stated that Policy 713 “is a violation of their protected rights under the Human Rights Act and the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.” Saskatchewan even went so far as to invoke the notwithstanding clause of the Canadian constitution to pass their legislation.

And let’s not forget the controversy around J.K. Rowling’s efforts to equate transgender rights against women’s equality (more on that later) or the campaign to boycott Bud Light for sponsoring transgender activist, Dylan Mulvaney. Hey, it even has its own Wikipedia page.

Casting back in history for examples of social advocacy in ESG investing

For me this is an example of where social advocacy within the context of ESG can play a role. And it is not the first time I have linked current affairs to historical efforts that seem so obvious in the world today.

Previously, I wrote about parallels between the abolition of slavery and efforts to shift from fossil fuels to renewable energy sources. Then as I began to cast about for a proper historical example of social/societal advocacy within ESG investing I got thinking about the multi-faceted efforts across the United States and Canada to attack our transgender friends and relatives I described above.

As I began to cast about for comparative historical precedents, I got thinking about the suffragette movement that reached its peak at the beginning of the 20th century, over a hundred years ago. In both contexts people were persecuted and denied their rights based on artificial barriers. Sadly, the campaign for LGBTQ equality and the suffragette movement are only two examples of such efforts. The UN Human Rights Office of the High Commission lists many examples. The fight for each of them goes on, throughout the world.

Returning to defense of slavery for a moment. Just a moment…

While writing about the abolition movement, I closed by saying that no one could think that slavery was a good thing. Then I came across the story of a legislator from Tennessee who argued that there was nothing wrong with the 3/5 compromise that led to the formation of the United States. In fact, according to his argument, it was supposedly an effort to limit the influence of slave owning states and bring about the end of slavery.

To place this in context, the

“three-fifths of the slave population would be counted for determining direct taxation and representation in the House of Representatives.”

This was followed by a story that described how the leader of a Republican Women’s group in New Orleans defended the wonder of slavery because so many slaves loved their owners and did not want freedom when it was offered to them after the end of the American Civil War.

Wonders never cease…

Suffragettes as a Struggle for Women’s Equality

In the late 19th century groups began to form around the struggle for votes for women. Much of this effort grew out of the effort to expand right to vote overall. In the preceding century the right to vote, especially in Great Britain and the United States was slowly being extended beyond the propertied classes. For much of British and American history, limits on voting detailed the property you had to own, along with the requirement that you be white and male.

As the franchise (right to vote) grew to include all males, regardless of property, the fact that women were still not included became more apparent. From this sprang the suffragette movement.

In fact, the term suffragette was originally intended as an insult but quickly became adopted as a badge of honour. The campaigns led by the suffragettes, especially in Great Britain, became increasingly radical, as their efforts fell on deaf ears. These efforts included hunger strikes among arrested protestors and bombing campaigns against symbols of male power when no one was around.

In Great Britain the campaign was postponed by, but ultimately supported by, the outbreak of the First World War.

Unfortunately, campaigns for social justice don’t always overlap. For instance, the suffragette movement in the US did not support granting the vote to Black women and women in the Civil Rights movement of the 1960’s accused their male counterparts of sexist attitudes.

Parallels with the anti-transgender movement among some feminist activists

So much of this seems to be clearly paralleled in the controversy behind J.K Rowling’s support for people like “Caroline Farrow, ananti-trans, anti-gay, and anti-abortion activist”.

Corporate support for LGBTQ rights is appreciated by the public

I want to close on a positive note as we move forward with our societal efforts to support our LGBTQ colleagues. Back in June, GLAAD released a poll that showed that “Reveals Americans Nearly Twice as Likely to Support a Company that is Criticized for Supporting the LGBTQ Community”.

There is hope after all.

Differences may exist, but the struggle continues

There are always going to be differences of opinion within any social movement and the effort to bring justice to all cannot afford to stop. I simply know that I support the full inclusion of my transgender and gender-fluid friends and family in society and I trust that someday their inclusion will be as obvious as the right to vote for women and people of color.