The Transgender Day of Remembrance (TDoR), held each year on November 20, was established in 1998 to memorialize transgender and gender non-conforming people who have been killed as a result of hatred, fear, and prejudice. The observance evolved from a web-based project into an international day of action, with observances in over 185 cities throughout more than 20 countries.

The TDoR raises awareness of hate crimes against gender non-conforming people; provides an opportunity to publicly mourn and honor the lives of those who might otherwise be forgotten; and provides an opportunity to express love and respect for transgender people in the face of national indifference and hatred. The vigil reminds families, friends and loved ones that transgender people are their sons, daughters, parents, friends, and lovers and invites their allies to stand in solidarity with the Transgender community.

On the importance of the TDoR, Rev. David Carl Olson of the First Unitarian Church of Baltimore (www.FirstUnitarian.net) writes:

“When we gather for the TDoR, we look at the world as it really is—with both the profound horror of the many stories of transphobia’s victims, and the joy of a community’s resilience, beauty and fortitude. From such a vantage point, we have the resources to bring about change, with deep joy.”

Since the last TDoR in 2013, more than 1,400 deaths of transgender people have been reported worldwide, with 100 of those taking place in the United States. These numbers by no means demonstrate the full gravity of the situation, as most transgender deaths are unreported or lost due to mis-gendering. In addition, not everyone agrees on which types of deaths ought to be included in this kind of reporting. Some inconsistently reported causes of death include domestic violence, suspicious deaths and suicide.

Baltimore City saw two brutal murders of transgender women in 2014. Kandy Hall, a 40-year-old hairdresser from Annapolis was murdered on June 3 of this year. Twenty-six-year-old Mia Henderson whose brother is NBA athlete Reggie Bullock of the Los Angeles Clippers, was murdered only a few weeks later on July 16. Baltimore Police are still investigating both murders, as well as the possibility of them being connected.

Other Marylanders who will be remembered on the TDoR are:

  • Chrissey (Marvin) Johnson, who died from multiple stab wounds.
  • Tacy Raino Ranta, co-founder of the Baltimore transgender support group Tran*Quility, who died of a gunshot wound.
  • Carla Natasha Hunt, who died from a gunshot wound to the head.
  • Venus LaBeija (Marcus Rodgers), a transgender rights activist, who was stabbed and set on fire, and succumbed to the burns a week later in the burn unit.
  • Angel (Dream Revlon Royale) who was found dead in her home just days before she was to pass on the crown of Queen of Baltimore Pride. Friends and family believe foul play was involved.
  • Stacey (Jarrell) Brown, who died from a gunshot wound to the head.
  • April “Ms. Dee” (Darren) Green, who was found stabbed to death.
  • Aiden Rivera Schaeff, who took his life one month shy of his 18th birthday due to constant harassment and bullying which lead to massive depression.
  • Tyra Trent, who was found strangled to death in the basement of an empty Baltimore apartment.
  • Tracey Johnson, who died of multiple gunshot wounds.
  • Kelly Young, was found suffering from a gunshot wound, and was taken to a hospital where she died.

While not everyone remembered on the TDoR self-identified as transgender, each was a victim of violence based on bias against gender non-conforming people.

The 16th Annual TDoR service in Baltimore will be held on November 20, at the First Unitarian Church of Baltimore, 10 W. Franklin Street. The evening will begin at 5 p.m. with a reception featuring original artwork by trans* and queer artists, curated by the Queer Artists Collective at Maryland Institute College of Art (MICA), to be held in the First Unitarian parish hall located at N. Charles and Hamilton Streets. At 6 p.m., the sanctuary doors at W. Franklin and N. Charles streets will open, and meditative music will provide a welcoming opportunity for centering and reflection. The inter-religious procession and memorial service will begin at 6:30 p.m., and will include a reading of names of transgender people who have lost their lives to violence and hate, and a candlelight vigil. Music will be provided by performers including Rev. Sam Offer of the Unity Fellowship Church of Baltimore (www.UFCB.org), the New Wave Singers (www.NewWaveSingers.org), and Positive Voices (www.pozvox.org). It will feature poetry written by members of the Transgender community and read either by the poets themselves, or by readers selected by the poets. The theme for the service will be “Peace.”

The event is being coordinated by individual and organizational members of the Transgender Response Team—a group of consumers, services providers and other stakeholders who work to tackle the barriers transgender Marylanders face to full and equal inclusion in society which collectively contribute to heightened risk for HIV for transgender people. The Maryland Infectious Disease and Environmental Health Administration sponsor the team. Find the TRT on Facebook under “Transgender Response Team – Baltimore, Maryland.”

For more information online about the Baltimore TDoR event, including information about event sponsorship, visit here, or visit our Facebook page.

A “Rally for Peace” is being planned for Saturday, Nov. 22 from 12 to 2:30 p.m., with the location to be determined. Visit our website for more information and updates.

Names of Marylanders who died, as a result of anti-transgender violence or bias, are to be submitted to j_brevelle@yahoo.com prior to 6 p.m. on Nov. 17 so as to be included in the event’s printed materials. All others will be listed on the website. Submissions should include their name, date of death, place of death, and a brief description of the person.

Bill Redmond-Palmer is a long time community organizer and advocate for HIV/AIDS and sexual and gender minority related issues.

TDoR Baltimore

TDoR Baltimore on Facebook

In Memory Of…

TDoR Baltimore Event Schedule

Transgender Response Team

Gay Life November 2014

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