Hyannis, MA, — 2019 marks the 21st anniversary of the Transgender Day of Remembrance. This year’s theme, “To remember those who came before us. That we who face the world today can live for what they no longer can,” honors the victims of anti-transgender hatred and violence. A vigil will be held on Wednesday, November 20 at the Barnstable Adult Community Center at 825 Falmouth Road in Hyannis beginning at 5:30 p.m. with a light meal. The evening will feature speakers Maxwell Archer, Dirk Correa, and Lysetta Hurge-Putnam, Executive Director of Independence House and will include a reading of the names of those from the transgender community who are no longer with us.
Every day, transgender people make the decision to change their birth sex to become the gender they were meant to be. Most people never have to face this decision and don’t understand it. This may lead to scorn and ridicule. “People often don’t understand the courageous decisions transgender people make to live the life they want,” added event speaker Maxwell Archer. “I believe knowledge leads to understanding. My hope for the Day of Remembrance is that people learn to understand transgender people and begin to see all people—regardless of gender identity, race, or ethnicity—as fellow humans.”
The day of remembrance began in 1998 with the unsolved murder of Ms. Rita Hester, an African American transgender woman, in Allston, MA. The “Remembering Our Dead” website project began in 1999, along with the first annual Day of Remembrance candlelight vigil in San Francisco to mark Ms. Hester’s death.
Sadly, anti-transgender violence is not a new phenomenon and instances have only increased since the first Day of Remembrance. The American Medical Association (AMA) has referred to 2019’s surge in transgender murders as an epidemic, with 18 confirmed homicides. However, the real numbers of transgender killings remain largely unknown due to underreporting (over 75% of victims are initially identified in reports by their birth sex). According to the Human Rights Campaign, over 130 transgender people have lost their lives since 2013—80% of whom were transgender women of color.
Transgender people face increased social stigma that includes barriers in employment, housing, healthcare, and other necessities that make them vulnerable. While acceptance of transgender people is on the rise, there is still a long way to go. During the Obama administration, the president recognized LGBTQIA+ rights, banning discrimination in the workplace, healthcare, education, housing, and more. However, under the Trump administration, many of these pro-human rights policies have been reversed. The transgender community is facing renewed legal hurdles and obstacles to acceptance driven by systemic anti-LGBTQIA+ bias under President Trump.
The Transgender Day of Remembrance has become a time for the transgender community, allies and advocates to gather, remember and honor the victims of anti-transgender hatred and violence. The day is now observed in over 200 cities in 21 countries around the world, including right here on Cape Cod. The Cape Cod Transgender Day of Remembrance Committee invites all transgender, gender non-conforming, and gender-fluid people, and all allies of the community, to attend this vigil marking the 21st annual Transgender Day of Remembrance.
Thank you to event sponsors Eastern Bank, Fenway Health, PFLAG of Cape Cod, Independence House, Cape Cod Pride, First Parish Brewster Unitarian Universalist, Cape Cod Women’s International League for Peace & Freedom, Trader Joe’s, BJ’s, and Stop & Shop.
About Fenway Health
Since 1971, Fenway Health has been working to make life healthier for the people in our neighborhoods. The mission of Fenway Health is to enhance the wellbeing of the LGBTQIA+ community, people living with HIV/AIDS, and all people in our neighborhoods and beyond through access to the highest quality health care, education, research, and advocacy.