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Transgender Day of Remembrance

On Nov. 20, people all over the world will come together for the 20th annual International Transgender Day of Remembrance. After the death of transgender woman of color Rita Hester in 1998, activist Gwendolyn Ann Smith created the event in 1999 to honor Hester and all of the transgender women lost to murder in the time since. In the two decades that followed, the Transgender Day of Remembrance has become a way for the LGBTQ+ community to bring attention to the extreme epidemic of murder that has raged havoc on the transgender community, most specifically on transgender women of color. In 2019, at least 22 transgender identifying people have lost their lives to murder. It should be noted that these crimes often are misreported, go under-reported, or are not reported at all. The majority of these individuals are people of color.

Furthermore, the Transgender Day of Remembrance gives the opportunity for the transgender community to not only be visible, but to take action as well. Make no mistake when I say that the Transgender Day of Remembrance is just as much of a protest as it is a vigil. As a trans woman myself, I am tired of watching my sisters die while no one bats an eye regarding their deaths. If these women were cisgender and white, such an epidemic would make national headlines. They had friends and family who loved them dearly. They made impacts on this world simply for existing. Their deaths shouldn’t be ignored simply because they are transgender.

I am proud to announce that the newly formed LGBTQ+ organization Out MOV will be sponsoring a Transgender Day of Remembrance event in Parkersburg Wednesday, Nov. 20 at 7 p.m. The event will feature transgender identifying speakers (myself included), as well as religious leaders Fr. Steve Peck, Rev. Shauna Hyde, and Rev. Kat Hawbaker.

We encourage the public to join us in giving meaning to the losses the transgender community has experienced this year and bringing attention to the epidemic that we so passionately wish to end.

Danielle Thrasher is a transgender activist and member of Out MOV’s board of directors, as well as the chair of Out MOV’s education committee.