The words on the rainbow flag outside TriVersity’s Center for Gender and Sexual Diversity on Harford Street read “Love, Peace, Respect and Pride."
The precept that each of us is born equal and deserves equal rights is underscored especially on November 20 each year, as part of Transgender Day of Remembrance. That is the day to honor the memory of the transgender people who lost their lives to violent hate crimes.
At this year's remembrance ceremony in Milford, Simone Kraus, TriVersity vice president, read the names of 27 people in the United States who are known to have been killed in transphobic hate crimes since last November 20. For each, a photo was displayed, a candle lit, and a bell rang. She explained why the day is important.
“Because transgender people are being murdered for who we are," Kraus said. "It’s a culture of hate prevalent even in our country.”
Worldwide, reports put the total killed at more than 300.
TriVersity board member Steven Teague said that, as a gay man, he wasn’t aware of trans issues until recently, and "how tied together we are. This is a societal tragic epidemic.”
Most of the murder victims have been trans women of color. Kraus said the vast majority of these women, having been marginalized, were forced into sex jobs.
“It’s not easy being transgender,” Kraus told The Courier. "People feel it is their right to belittle you in public.
"We’re not being accepted,” she added. “We’re being targeted, and it’s really personal that you have to worry whether or not the hate will come to your doorstep."
She said the solution requires public education.
There is no uniform federal protection against discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity in private employment. As a transgender woman, Kraus says she finds it necessary to explain to people, “I don’t want more rights than you — not one single right more. I want the rights you have — that’s all, and you would expect the same in my shoes.”
Her goal is to see the day when “any transgender child can grow up to be what they were born to be.”
“I don’t want more rights than you — not one single right more. I want the rights you have — that’s all, and you would expect the same in my shoes.” --Simone Kraus