#TransLivesMatter: Locals Observe Transgender Day of Remembrance 2014
Members of the transgender community of the Capital Region, their advocates, and allies will gather in Albany tonight to honor the memory of the many transgender people who have been victims of violence in the past year.
Today is the 16th annual Transgender Day of Remembrance, a solemn tribute to people who have lost their lives to anti-transgender hatred or prejudice. The event also raises awareness of the threat of discrimination and violence faced by the transgender community.
According to Wikipedia, Transgender Day of Remembrance was founded in 1999 by Gwendolyn Ann Smith, a trans woman who is a graphic designer, columnist, and activist, to memorialize the murder of Rita Hester in Allston, Massachusetts. Since its inception, TDoR has been held annually on November 20, and it has slowly evolved from the web-based project started by Smith into an international day of action. In 2010, TDoR was observed in over 185 cities throughout more than 20 countries.
A 2011 study by The Williams Institute at UCLA estimated that about 700,000 Americans are transgendered. Gabby Santos, Director of LGBT Health Services at Albany's "In Our Own Voices, Incorporated," says trans women of color experience higher risks to job discrimination, access to housing, sexual assaults and homicide. "We as advocates see this day to call out everybody and see what they can bring to the table in the social change that needs to happen in order to create safe spaces for everyone, including trans individuals who don't fit nicely within the traditional gender binary, and because of that, then face additional risks for violence and other disparities."
Tonight's commemoration begins at 6 the College of St. Rose Hubbard Interfaith Sanctuary. Eòghann Renfroe is Transgender Rights Organizer with Empire State Pride Agenda. "There will be some singing. Two speakers will tell a little bit about their stories and what its like to be trans in this world. And then there will be a reading of the names of all of the transgendered people who have been murdered in the past year, simply for living their lives authentically. We're gonna come together in a healing space, and after that we're all gonna break bread together. There's going to be a big pot luck meal, so everyone is really encouraged to come and take part of that."
Members of the Albany Common Council will formally present a resolution honoring Transgender Day of Remembrance to members of the community.
According to the Kingston-based Trans & Queer Support Network, in the last 12 months, the worldwide number of people reported to have been murdered because of anti-transgender hate is 238. Compared to other LGBT people, transgender women of color are disproportionately likely to be victims of violence.
The murder of Jennifer Laude, a 26-year-old trans Filipina, has touched the public worldwide, triggering anger in the Philippines, where it has revived a debate over U.S. military presence in the Island Nation. The story has gained little momentum in the U.S., kept out of the headlines by the November elections, Ebola, Immigration Reform and Isis. Again, Eòghann Renfroe: "Since her death one month ago, 13 more transgender women have been murdered and added to the official list, and that list only records a fraction of the deaths that occur each year."
In Kingston, a candlelight vigil and Reading of Names commemorating International Transgender Day of Remembrance begins at 6:30 at the Hudson Valley LGBTQ Community Center.
The Kingston group advises "If you aren't able to attend the Candlelight Vigil at the Center, you can have your own candlelight vigil wherever you are. Light a candle, invite those you're with to join you, and make sure that those lost to the world because of hate are not ever forgotten."
Here's a link to find Transgender Day of Remembrance events in your area.