On November 20, HRC will honor Transgender Day of Remembrance, an opportunity for communities to come together and remember transgender people, gender-variant individuals -- and those perceived to be transgender -- who have been murdered because of hate. In the lead-up, HRC is proud to present a blog series featuring a few of the many powerful voices of the trans community.
Post submitted by Chelle Lhuillier, member of the Diversity Committee's Transgender Engagement Team of the HRC Greater New York Steering Committee, Miss LGBT Philippines - USA and LGBTQ rights advocate.
Despite tremendous progress in advancing LGBT rights, each year the list of transgender lives cut short tragically grows.
It is to them that we dedicate Transgender Day of Remembrance (TDOR), a day the community joins with our friends and allies in a sign of solidarity. From Rita Hester in Boston over 15 years ago to Jennifer Laude in the Philippines last month, countless transgender individuals worldwide have lost their lives because of who they are and whom they love. It is because of them that we dedicate Transgender Day of Remembrance to honor and commemorate their dignity, and pay them with the respect that they deserve.
This TDOR, I am reminded of the difficult experiences I have endured, such as stereotyping, discrimination, and looks from other people. Those moments have become a source of inspiration and motivation to persevere, to keep my head up and know that I am worthy of respect. As a transgender woman, I can make a difference by continuously inspiring others through transgender empowerment.
Little by little, through my advocacy work, I gained acceptance and recognition from the mainstream Filipino-American social and charitable community. It is from this work that I found a sense of community that helped me to feel loved, comfortable and safe. I started by attending fundraising and formal events of charitable organizations, coronation balls, and fashion shows, all geared for the purpose of giving back to the community.
Since then, I found the strength to deepen my advocacy work and become a voice of the marginalized transgender community. I came out publicly after being awarded the honorary title of Miss LGBT Philippines-USA. Shortly after, I made history as the first transgender woman to be featured in the 2014 Philippine Independence Day Parade in New York City. Later, I marched proudly with Bayan USA and Gabriela USA at the 2014 New York City Pride Parade. I also volunteered with HRC's Greater New York Steering Committee of the Human Rights Campaign.
In this year's Transgender Day of Remembrance, it is my prayer that I can continue this empowering work and inspire others.
Transgender Day of Remembrance is held in November to honor Rita Hester, whose murder on November 28, 1998, launched the “Remembering Our Dead” web project and a San Francisco vigil the following year.
The event provides a forum for transgender communities and allies to raise awareness of the threat of violence faced by gender variant people and the persistence of prejudice felt by the transgender community. Communities organize events and activities including town hall style "teach-ins," photography and poetry exhibits and candlelit vigils. These activities make anti-transgender violence visible to stakeholders like police, the media and elected officials.Find an event near you.