HRC Blog

HRC Leaders Reflect on Transgender Day of Remembrance

The following post comes from Hyacinth Alvaran, HRC Diversity Program Manager:

On November 20th and surrounding days, HRC leaders across the country stood in solidarity with their local communities for Transgender Day of Remembrance as they remembered the lives of transgender sisters and brothers lost to hate crime. Each one reflected on the meaning of the event for them, and below they share a few words. Their reflections follow a weeklong series of personal stories by transgender voices in our communities, from the experiences of those who emphasize resilience in the face of unspeakable brutality, to family members who have lost their loved ones, to faithful voices who speak out about the importance of community & solidarity, and to youth who find the spirit to keep looking forward to a better day. Thank you to our leaders and our communities for coming together on this important Transgender Day of Remembrance.


 

Estelle Riley, HRC Greater Cincinnati
“In remembering on this date unnecessary and tragic deaths, let us applaud the courage of the trans community for living as themselves.  Let us celebrate the individuality and resilience of all trans in our community who endure violence (in many forms) and continue to pursue their aspirations.  As the Human Rights Campaign suggests, let us stand with the trans community as they strive to achieve fairness in life and in the workplace.  We cannot continue to keep this terrible secret and allow these deaths and this bullying to continue.  We are the persons to bring the topic of anti-transgender violence to the variety of stakeholders in the workplace, to politicians, the media, and to the various police departments.  Become vocal, become active, become part of the solution to end this violence.”

Lisa Marchbanks, HRC Los Angeles
“The crowd, which included many HRC supporters, had a hopeful, respectful tone when guest speakers Ofelia Barba Navarro and her trans daughter Zoey, 11 years old, took the podium. The brave Zoey and her mother spoke of bullying and what it is like growing up as a trans child with a supportive parent. Zoey’s primary message of hope “that everyone deserves to be loved and cared for,” was welcomed with crowd roaring cheers. However, the most moving yet somber part of the evening was the reading of the names of those lost in the last year. Each spoke for an individual who had no voice. Many times there were gasps from the crowds as the descriptions of such heinous crimes were read over and over again.  The finals words were a prayer of love and hope presented by Reverend Megan Moore of Metropolitan Community Church in North Hollywood. The crowd took in the moment of forgiveness, love and light as if it were one giant hug handed down by the loving Gods of all who were present.”  

Dr. Frantz E. Colin, HRC South Florida
“Transgender Day of Remembrance was a new experience for me, and I am grateful I was given the opportunity to experience this empowering event. Though somber at times as we reflected on those lost, this moment I shared was filled with an abundance of LOVE for all people. TDOR reminded me though we may be different, everyone of us human beings is unique, special and gifted. No one has the right to put out a bright light, before it's time.”

Angela Cottrell, HRC Kansas City
“Every day, we face oppression, hateful words, and acts of violence. Rather than respond with hate, we respond with love. We respond with memories and pictures and words of those who believed in themselves. Every day, we fight for equality. On this Transgender Day of Remembrance, we honor those who were brave enough to become who they are in this universe and remember that love will conquer hate.  As a result of this time of reflection, may our hearts be filled with the love of others and renew our passion for equality.”

Randall Hance, HRC Houston
“This year was my first TDOR, and I left with a new appreciation of the transgender community. I was truly saddened to hear so many tragic stories. The quantity and relentless brutality is heartbreaking. Fortunately, the room was filled with loving and supportive people. The group was diverse and filled with many trans allies, which I found a little surprising and very encouraging. It's great to see cross-community support within the sometimes segregated LGBT community. Together, we all make the world a better place.”



Jason Bryan, HRC Twin Cities
“On November 19, I attended a screening and discussion of Transgender Tuesdays, a documentary about the trans people who have gone to the Tom Waddell Clinic in San Francisco on "Transgender Tuesdays" for health care. The subjects in the film shared their personal stories, and highlighted the need for competency in caring for transgender patients. The vigil was convened the following day by Barbara Satin at Living Table UCC in south Minneapolis. The room was packed with trans community members and many allies, including several of us from the HRC Twin Cities Steering Committee. Our vigil included the reading of names - 71 this year - of those killed in the last year due to anti-trans violence. Those killed were from cities across the US, as well as other countries, including far too many in Brazil, which is of great concern. There was also discussion of non-fatal crimes and the suicides that sadly occur every year in the transgender community. We ended the evening singing Somewhere Over the Rainbow in unison, leaving us with the reminder to love ourselves just as we are, and to continue to be visible and work to combat the violence and discrimination faced by our trans sisters and brothers.”

CD Hastings, HRC Greater Washington, D.C.
"Transgender Day of Remembrance was a meaningful time for us all to come together as one big family, mourning and healing together. As a member of the planning committee for this event who had the opportunity to give the welcoming remarks, I can say that this was one of the most important and enriching experiences I have been honored to participate in. It was a time to remember that while we have made so many amazing steps towards equality, we still have so much work to do to ensure that our transgender brothers and sisters are free to live their lives without harassment and violence."

Xavier Esters, HRC Chicago
“While the focus of Transgender Day of Remembrance is to recognize those lost to violent and senseless deaths every year, the Chicago event was centered on a message of hope, a reminder of the progress made thus far, and honoring those who are moving the community forward.  As Gloria Allen, a transgender woman who teaches youth etiquette at the Center on Halsted, aptly reminded the crowd, we live in a world that doesn't always want to accept the transgender community, but it's getting better.  We must cherish and celebrate those who are living amongst us.  One can only hope the list of names gets shorter and shorter each year as the level of acceptance and love continues to grow.”  

Britni Jackson and Marilyn Abalos, HRC Greater New York
“It was very good to hear the personal testimonies that trans people shared, along with their friends, partners, and family.  Most touching was the narrative of a 22-year old woman named Gillian, who talked about the journey of her childhood and her father who transitioned. As one of the speakers so eloquently stated, “strength and power” were the overarching themes of the event. It was very empowering being in a space of community and support that provided such homage to those who we have lost and such encouragement to those who continue still stand strong, fighting to simply to be who they are.”

transgender day of remembrance New york

Geri Rochino, HRC San Diego
“I was so moved by San Diego’s Transgender Day of Remembrance event.  We started with a candlelight vigil and went on to meet at the San Diego LGBT Center and remember the names of our transgender sisters and brothers who have lost their lives to hate crime.  There were several amazing speakers but I was particularly touched by Kristen Beck, an author and activist who served over 20 years as a US Navy Seal before coming out as transgender.  I am so inspired by her bravery for not only serving our country but by her courage to live her life truthfully every day.   I walked out of the event, promising myself and the HRC San Diego Steering Committee that we’ll do much more to help the transgender community here.”



Blake Brockway, HRC Nashville
“We gathered in Nashville as a community to reflect and remember the precious lives that have been lost due to transgender-related violence. In the past decade, we have made so much progress in furthering protection and equality to all parts of the LGBTQI rainbow. It's our job as a community to spread awareness and create a safe environment so individuals from every part of that rainbow can love and love without fear."

Yana Banarjee, HRC Philadelphia
"Philly's TDOR at the William Way Center was an incredibly moving event - so full of a wide range of emotions throughout the evening. Although the evening was somber as we remembered the lives lost, the overall sentiment from the night was one of celebration of the lives that touched us. We were reminded that change is happening in our community and that we are responsible for leading that change. It's not about one day of remembering, but rather, it's about a continuous push for action. This photograph shows a moment of celebration of the transgender community at the event, both honoring the lives lost and standing stronger together."

transgender day of remembrance Philadelphia

Chad Reumann, HRC San Antonio
"Hundreds of people from across the LGBTQ and ally community gathered. Several speakers spoke, and we dedicated a plaque to the late Michelle Myers, a long-time transgender advocate in the San Antonio community. The HRC San Antonio steering committee attended to show solidarity and sponsored the program books. It was an inspiring event."

Linda Brown, HRC Portland
“The focus this year of the Transgender Day of Remembrance, organized by the Northwest Gender Alliance, was not only the deaths of transgender people around the world, but also, as stated by Leeza Edwards, ‘the loss of our transgender brothers and sisters is a tragedy not only for the victims and their families, but it is a loss for the entire community.’ Throughout the service we were encouraged to think about ways to accept and deal with our grief and ultimately move forward in creating ways to feel safe and improve life in our own community.”

Transgender day of remembrance Portland

Carin Jacobs, HRC Orange County / Long Beach / Palm Springs
“Long Beach's TDOR event was attended by over 50 people. We had three speakers, including a local city council member, and a candlelight vigil announcing the names of the deceased.  HRC partnered with the Long Beach Gay & Lesbian Center and "The Naked Truth", a local transgender church group.  It was a very nice event... Somber but empowering at the same time.”

Thomas Cowley, HRC Orange County / Long Beach / Palm Springs
"Thirty people attended the Palm Springs TDOR event at The Center, including several members of the local Orange County / Long Beach / Palm Springs Steering Committee. It included a candle-lighting ceremony during the reading of the names of individuals who have died in the past year. This year's event also strived to uplift the somber moment by recognizing individuals who helped move trans issues to center stage in recent years. The Coachella Valley held two other TDOR ceremonies, one of which included partnering with College of the Desert Gay/Straight Alliance and the other held in downtown Palm Springs."

Mario Rodas and Canh Vu, HRC Boston
“We had a strong turnout of 200 supporters, despite the rain and chill. Each of them held a candle with the name of a victim. People understand the importance of supporting this very special day as we pay respect to individuals needlessly killed by hate crimes. It is a day summons a mix of emotions: gratitude for how far some parts of society have come in accepting the LGBT community contrasted by not only the horror over the vicious hatefulness that results in loss of health and life, but also frustration over the prejudice that keeps transgender people from contributing all that they have to offer.  Ultimately, the day summons awe and encouragement by the strength and bravery of the transgender community and their allies.”

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