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Sunday, November 18 , 2018, 3:17 am | Fog/Mist 53º


Pacific Pride Foundation Honors International Transgender Day of Remembrance

Pacific Pride Foundation's altar remembering trans individuals lost in the past year.

Observed annually Nov. 20, International Transgender Day of Remembrance (TDOR) “seeks to highlight the losses we face due to anti-transgender bigotry and violence… With so many seeking to erase transgender people, sometimes in the most brutal ways possible it is vitally important that those we lose are remembered and that we continue to fight for justice.”

These are the words of advocate and writer Gwendolyn Ann Smith, who coordinated the first TDOR vigil in 1999 — commemorating not only Rita Hester, Boston transgender educator and homicide victim, but all individuals lost to anti-transgender violence that year.

Shortly after, Smith launched the Transgender Day of Remembrance website to annually recognize and remember those lost to anti-transgender violence.

This year Santa Barbara’s local transgender community, including Santa Barbara Transgender Advocacy Network, will honor International Transgender Day of Remembrance with a candlelight vigil sponsored by Pacific Pride Foundation.

At 6:30 p.m. in the Sunken Gardens of the Santa Barbara Courthouse, community members are invited to respectfully gather and take part in reading the names of those lost to anti-transgender violence in the last year. The experience will include local speakers and a non-denominational reflection pausing to honor unnamed, unreported victims.

After the vigil, participants are invited to make their way to Pacific Pride Foundation (126 E. Haley Street, Suite A11) for a gathering of light refreshments and the comfort of community.

Prior to the vigil, from now through Nov. 20, all are welcome to share photos of transgender individuals lost to violence on Pacific Pride Foundation’s Transgender Day of Remembrance altar located in the organization's lobby.

Since Jan. 1, 2015, 21 transgender women have been murdered, most of them women of color, with one additional victim whose gender identity has been disputed in press reports.

According to the advocate’s Mitch Kellaway and Sunnivie Brydum, this “exceeds the number of transgender women killed in the U.S. in all of 2014, though neither of these totals account for individuals whose deaths were not reported or investigated, nor for victims who were misgendered or not regarded [accurately] as trans women in death.”

These totals also do not account for victims identifying as trans men or non-binary transgender individuals. Nor do they represent other forms of violence that disproportionately impact the transgender community, including higher rates of sexual assault, intimate partner violence, and stalking.

At this time, the majority of anti-transgender violence reported in 2015 has been centered on transgender women victims and has largely been reported by media (not by rigorous surveying on this topic).

In local school club Gay-Straight Alliances (or equivalent), students are eager to increase the local visibility of Transgender Day of Remembrance. Some GSAs will make posters with photos of Transgender individuals killed in 2015, others will plan moments of silence during their school-wide announcements.

In one particularly motivated GSA meeting, a member urged, “I think we should put our posters up together as a group. Our visibility will make a big difference to other students. It will help them see how important this issue is!”

While transgender individuals of all ages increasingly work for equal rights, Transgender Day of Remembrance is a time to pause and remember those who have not survived and to recommit to shaping a more welcoming world for all transgender people.

— Patrick Lyra Kearns is the LGBT outreach advocate for Pacific Pride Foundation.


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