November 20 is the annual observance of the Transgender Day of Remembrance (TDoR), an opportunity to honor and remember those who have lost their lives as a result of violence and bigotry directed at Transgender and other gender variant people. The day is marked in Baltimore with an interfaith service, vigil, and reading of the names of those lost around the world in the past year, and names of Marylander’s lost over the past twenty-three years.

This year, members of the Transgender community and their allies will also participate in a march and rally in front of City Hall in Baltimore in honor of the lives lost, as well as their own, as part of the national Trans March of Resilience (TMoR), to be held in numerous cities across the United States. The TMoR will make history as the first nationally organized protest demonstration for justice and equality, led by Trans people of color. The TMoR seeks to raise awareness of the anti-Transgender violence faced daily by gender variant people, and to provide solidarity with the resilience of Trans people across the country.

“TMoR is important because it recognizes the resiliency that lives inside of all Transgender People to unapologetically live in our truths”, said Bryanna Jenkins, Co-Chair of the Baltimore Transgender Alliance, the lead group organizing the march in Baltimore. “It gives us hope and courage in a time where the violence against us is at an all-time high. My goal with this event is to restore a sense of purpose and pride about who we are as contributing members of this city and society. 2015 as really been a year of transformation concerning social and restorative justice in Baltimore, and our goal is to make sure the Trans community is included in that, and to avoid anti-Trans violence from becoming swept under the rug like homelessness and other issues. We need action, we need allies and we need to hold leaders accountable.”

The TMoR will begin at the Ynot Lot at North Avenue and Charles Street. The march will step off at 4 pm and travel down St. Paul St. where they will merge with a second group that will be gathered in front of Penn Station. It will then continue to War Memorial Plaza in front of City Hall to participate in a rally from 5 to 6 pm. ASL Interpretation will be provided for the rally. At 6 pm, the group will march to the First Unitarian Church of Baltimore to participate in the TDoR program.

The doors of First Unitarian at 12 West Franklin Street in Baltimore will open at 6 pm and with music by Organist Jim Houston, the New Wave Singers of Baltimore, and The Positive Voices of Baltimore. The TDoR program will begin at 6:30 pm. The church is wheelchair accessible, and ASL Interpretation will be provided for the event.

When asked about the importance of the day, Phillip J. Lovett, MSW, LGSW said that the TDoR “helps inform clients that their lives matter and that they are not alone. This event is critical to give both the transgender community and the larger society a time to mourn the loss of a friend, non-biological relative, and lover. This event is important because every life is important.” Lovett is a trained behavior intervention specialist with project Tea Time (Transpeople Empowerment in Action), a primary and secondary HIV Prevention program of AIDS Action Baltimore funded through the Baltimore City Health Department that sees both transgender men and women.

For more information about the TMoR, please search for “BTA presents Baltimore’s Transgender March of Resilience” on Facebook, or contact Bryanna A. Jenkins, Lead Organizer on Facebook or at bryannaaeon@me.com.

For more information on the TDoR, please visit https://sites.google.com/site/tdorbaltimore/ or contact Jean-Michel Brevelle, Lead Event Coordinator at j_brevelle@yahoo.com.

On Saturday, November 14th, the fifth annual Montgomery County TDoR event will be held from 7 to 9 pm at the Rockville United Church, 355 Linthicum Street, in Rockville MD. The event will include a service with music, readings and speakers, quieter spaces attended by listeners/companions, a candlelight vigil and a simple supper. The event is free, however they do invite donations to support local Trans resources. The church is wheelchair accessible.

“With the murder of Zella Ziona, a Trans woman of color, in Gaithersburg in October, our work has taken on an increased significance,” said Mycroft Masada, a local faith leader and member of the organizing committee. “Now more than ever, we seek to create a space where Trans people and our allies can reflect on their roles in ending transphobic violence throughout the year, with a deeper understanding of how transphobia intersects with racism, classism, and other forms of oppression.”

To volunteer or for more information about the MoCo TDoR event, please search for “Montgomery County MD Transgender Day of Remembrance 2015” on Facebook, visit them on Twitter @MCMDTDoR / #MCMDTDOR or email revmillerjen@gmail.com.

In November 1998, the murders of trans women Chanel Pickett and Rita Hester in Boston MA inspired a local candlelight vigil and the creation of the international TDoR, now observed in dozens of countries and hundreds of cities, providing opportunities to share grief and anger, appreciate the lives and gifts of those lost, and commit to work towards trans-inclusive social justice. Visit http://transgenderdor.org/ for more information.

“It breaks my heart that people around the world and here in Baltimore lose their lives due to anti-transgender violence, and it makes me fear for the lives of my friends and loved ones” said Shanna Bittner-Borell, a member of the 2015 TDoR planning committee. “TDOR is important to me, as an ally, because it gives me an opportunity to join with others to remember the people we lost too soon and to build a supportive community in their honor.”

Bill Redmond-Palmer is a long time community advocate for HIV/AIDS, Faith, and Sexual and Gender Minority related issues.

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