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Nov. 21, 2013: A Sobering Event

November 22, 2013

On Nov. 1, I blogged that I was not planning on attending the Transgender Day of Remembrance event in West Hollywood; I was just going to pause and think of those who have been killed for being who they are. I’m ashamed to say that I would have even missed that opportunity had it not been for a friend of mine who emailed me an L.A. Times article yesterday. But I’m happy to say that Mara and I decided to go. It was sobering event that I will never forget.

There was some entertainment by trans people and a few short speeches — including one by a very courageous, 11-year-old transgender girl and her supportive mother. But the main part of the evening was a reading of names of transgenders who had been murdered in the past year. There were nearly 250 reported murders worldwide last year, but there were probably many more that went unreported. About 30 or so of the names, along with details of their deaths, were actually read. The event sponsors asked for volunteers from the audience to read them, while their photos (the ones that were available) were projected on an overhead screen. . One of the readers was a police officer who was there with several of her colleagues to provide security for the event. It was heart-wrenching. The victims ranged in age from 13 to late 50s, with most in their 20s and 30s. And they did nothing to deserve the violence. Among the acts that were done to them were shootings, stabbings, torture, beheading, burning, bludgeoning and strangling.

We had not eaten dinner, and we bumped into a transwoman we knew and her friends, so we all went to a restaurant afterward. It was good to be with people who transitioned and were doing well, in a city where intolerance and bigotry are dirty words. The contrast between our situation and the plight of others in many less-than-tolerant cities around the world was very stark. And just because there are laws designed to protect transgenders where we live doesn’t mean there aren’t haters out there who are willing to risk going to prison in order to inflict violence on transgenders just for existing.

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