Downtown Kelowna was filled with support for the annual International Trans Day of Visibility.
In a press release from the Kelowna Pride Society, they said 350 people came together on Friday to commemorate the event, which has been held annually on March 31 since 2009.
Events included a trans community showcase ‘Amplifying Our Joy’ at the Rotary Centre for the Arts, featuring talent from Kelowna’s trans and gender-diverse communities, including musicians, drag performers, poets, writers, and artists.
A trans flag flashmob was organized by community members, families, and allies who attended the event "to make clear their commitment to standing together in support of the communities" in Kelowna and the Central Okanagan."
"This year’s events were spearheaded by a group of young trans campaigners in the city, who organized with the support of a coalition of local trans and 2sLGBTIQ+ (Two Spirit, Lesbian, Gay, Bi, Trans, Intersex, and Queer) groups and community members," the society said.
The Okanagan Gender Identity Group, TransParent Okanagan, Advocacy Canada, and Kelowna Pride Society worked together to raise funds and organize the event.
Organizers said they were blown away by the level of interest to participate in the showcase, with all artists agreeing to participate for free.
"Many artists and participants cited the current backlash against trans and 2sLGBTIQ+ rights, locally and globally, as the reason they were so keen to come together today."
Jade Walters, co-director of the Okanagan Gender Identity Group, who led efforts to organize this year, had their punk band, Svengali, performed their first-ever public gig at the showcase.
"We believe that in this current political moment, the best antidote to anti-trans hatred and bigotry is to amplify our joy," they said.
"Today we are here to say we are unafraid to show who we are, proud to come together in support of one another as a community, and resolute in our efforts to make Kelowna a safer and more inclusive city for all," said Claire House, director of governance at Kelowna Pride Society.