Our region remembers

Local Transgender Day of Remembrance

York Equality Fest partnered with Union Lutheran Church Nov. 20 for the annual observance of Transgender Day of Remembrance.
York Equality Fest partnered with Union Lutheran Church Nov. 20 for the annual observance of Transgender Day of Remembrance.

There have now been 24 murders of trans people this year. That is already more than there were in either 2015 or 2016, reports Josh Jackman for Pink News. The latest trans death occurred in late October when the body of Stephanie Montez, 47, was found by the road near Corpus Christi, Texas.

Nov. 20 groups in Harrisburg and York held vigils to honor those murdered during the last year.

In Harrisburg, TransCentralPA, Equality PA, other organizations and private citizens held their annual Transgender Day of Remembrance on the steps of the State Capitol. Those assembled held a candle light vigil in memory of the many transgender persons murdered during the past year.

Speakers included: PA Acting Secretary of Health and Physician General, Dr. Rachel Levine; Representative Dan Frankel, LGBT Caucus Chair; Kell Wilkinson Policy Director, Equality PA; Amanda Arbor, Executive Director, LGBT Community Center of Central Pennsylvania; Joanne Carroll, President, TransCentral PA; and the Rev. John Ward-Diorio, St. Paul’s United Church of Christ, Mechanicsburg delivered the homily.

York Equality Fest partnered with Union Lutheran Church in the City of York, PA to hold their first Transgender Day of Remembrance vigil. The Rev. Joel Folkemer of Union Lutheran was joined by out lesbian pastor, Eva O'Diam of Dover United Church of Christ, Rev. Dr. Gabriele Parks from the Unitarian Universalist Congregation of York, and speakers, Charles D. Kress from PFLAG, James Sawor from Rep. Carol Hill-Evans' office, and members of Transology.

Equality Fest President, Carla Christopher performed a poem, Pastor Joel led the congregation in songs, and participants, led by York City mayor-elect Michael Helfrich, West York Borough mayor, Shawn Mauck, and Hallam Borough mayor-elect, Glenn Wascovitch, lit candles as the names were read of those who have died by transgender violence in the U.S. in 2017.

The service was followed by a time of quiet meditation and mutual community support.

The Transgender Day of Remembrance (TDOR) is an annual occurring event held each November 20. It is set aside as a day to memorialize those individuals killed because of transphobia, or the hatred or fear of transgender and gender non-conforming people; and acts to bring attention to the continued violent hate crimes endured by the transgender community.

The Transgender Day of Remembrance was founded in 1998 by Gwendolyn Ann Smith; a transgender woman who is a graphic designer, columnist, and activist, to memorialize the murder of Rita Hester in Allston, Massachusetts on November 28, 1998.