On the eve of Transgender Day of Remembrance, Edmonton’s queer arts festival is bringing attention to the plight of transpeople.

An event discussing body image and queer-identified people coincides with the day, which recognizes transpeople who have been killed in prejudice-motivated hate crimes. As part of the week-long Exposure Festival, a discussion dubbed “Our Queer Bodies” will be held tomorrow at 5 p.m. at the University of Alberta.

Noting that Edmonton is a hub for transsexuals, Exposure’s programming chair, Todd Janes, hopes to educate the community about trans issues.

“Edmonton is a tolerant city, I think,” Janes says. “Often Edmonton is the oasis in the desert of Alberta. But I think when people know more and understand more, they are much more accepting. I think, in the end, it makes it less of a struggle for people that identify as transgendered.”

However, after funding for gender reassignment surgery in Alberta was cut in the spring, the future for transpeople appears especially bleak.

“Whether it is funded or not, (transpeople) will always exist,” said Jan Buterman, a local trans activist.

“There are always more people diagnosed with it, as many as there were before. Now the difference is that a trans-identified person has no hope in hell of getting things like their documentation changed.”

Transpeople in Alberta can only be legally identified by their new gender after receiving gender reassignment surgery. At a cost of $180,000, the surgeries cause a backlog of patients who can’t afford the procedure, Buterman said.

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