Friday, Nov. 20, 2020, is Transgender Remembrance Day. This annual vigil was started in 1999 to honor the memory of Rita Hester, a transgender woman who was killed in 1998 and never received justice.
A transgender person is someone whose gender identity — the gender they feel internally — does not match the sex they were assigned at birth.
In past years the Unitarian Universalist Church of Athens and Sheshequin has held public ceremonies on Transgender Remembrance Day. We have read the names of transgender people who had been victims of deadly violence in the previous year.
This year, we were planning a vigil at the Old Sheshequin Meeting House, but, due to the rising number of COVID-19 cases in our area, we will be holding the vigil online at noon on Friday.
According to transequality.org, twenty-six transgender Americans were murdered or died under suspicious circumstances in 2019. In just the first seven months of 2020, twenty-eight more have died. Countless others have been subjected to harassment, discrimination, and physical attacks. A disproportionate number of the victims are people of color.
Many people who are not transgender are uncomfortable with, and possibly fearful of, those who are transgender. But our discomfort and fear should lead us to seek to understand, not to discriminate, abuse, or murder.
To learn more about Transgender Day of Remembrance and about those who have died, visit: https://www.hrc.org/resources/violence-against-the-trans-and-gender-non-conforming-community-in-2020.