The following post, part of HRC's week-long observance of Transgender Day of Remembrance, comes from Rev. Lawrence Richardsonthe Founding Pastor of Shift UCC in St. Paul, Minnesota:

reverend lawrence richardson, shift UCCIn my experience as an African American transgender male, my Faith has gotten me to where I am today.  I’ve overcome a lot in my life – childhood abuse and trauma, homelessness, self-harm and poverty. Today, I am filled with complete JOY! I travel all over the United States inspiring transgender people, gender non-conforming people, and our allies. I walk in my Faith and you can too.

As we gather across the nation for Transgender Day of Remembrance, it’s important to acknowledge our truths while remembering our loved ones. Never forget, but keep moving forward towards our dreams. My message to every trans and gender non-conforming person reading this is: “God is love and you were made in the image of perfect Love. There is space for you in this world. There is space at your church, in your desired career, in your family, on sports teams…and it is time to take your space. Your presence is valued and necessary. So what, they stare or ask questions, answer them. Look them in the eyes proudly with your beautiful, handsome, brilliant, transgendered self. Claim your space and tell your story.  

Don’t lose faith! We get angry every Trans Day of Remembrance as the names are called and the death toll increases, and we leave in fear returning to our underground spaces hoping we don’t join next year’s list. But until we are so visible that they can no longer ignore us or hate us or kill us, they will continue to say that we don’t belong. We must pull ourselves up, educate allies, and build relationships with people who are different than us while the rest of the world figures out how to be kind and inclusive.

Here are a few of the organizations that have empowered me as I continue to transition and shift my life forward:


My message is simple this year.  We can no longer remain hidden. Join the trans movement with folks like Carter Brown, Kylar Broadus, Dr. Kortney Ryan Ziegler, Laverne Cox, and Monica Roberts as we live this life of visibility, advocacy, empowerment, and justice. Let us choose to LIVE free!

Yesterday, November 20th, HRC joined others around the world in observing Transgender Day of Remembrance. Vigils are still being held tonight and throughout the weekend in cities across the country. Visit for details on an event near you.

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