The first Sumaya Dalmar award, a scholarship given to a transgender student of colour, has been awarded to arts and contemporary studies student.
The student spoke on the condition he would be identified only as Patrice B.
The award, which was introduced in March 2018, gives tribute to late Toronto activist Sumaya Dalmar, a black Muslim trans woman who died in 2015 at the age of 26.
Patrice, who is in his last year of study at Ryerson, said Dalmar’s wish to educate other members of the LGBTQ2S community resonates with him.
“I want to become a teacher, and to have representatives of the trans community within the classroom is important for me,” he said.
Dalmar, also known as Sumaya YSL, was found dead the night before she was supposed to take a role in the education department of The 519, Canada’s largest LGBTQ community centre.
Her sudden and unexplained death caused outrage in Toronto’s LGBTQ community at the time, highlighting the violence against trans people in North America.
Like Dalmar, Patrice said he wants to advocate for trans students and see them able to receive education.
In an interview last year, Ryerson sociology department chair Alan Sears said the combination of racism and transphobia trans people of colour face can affect them, from finding employment to making connections with others.
“As an institution, we need to honour and recognize that those barriers are real,” said Sears, who helped his former student, Lali Mohamed, bring the idea of the award to university advancement.
Patrice said since winning the award, he has received a lot of support from his professors, peers and even strangers. “People have reached out to me and that kind of support is encouraging me more to come out to my family.
“Those two identities need that sense of community and support,” he said. “I think that’s why this scholarship should be a thing – because trans people of colour are experiencing discrimination and oppression on two sides, so having that support helps them.”