Anti-trans violence. Transphobia.
“Downright meanness,” is what Steven Teague, president of the TriVersity Center for Gender & Sexual Diversity called it. He addressed those who came, bundled up against the cold, to commemorate the Transgender Day of Remembrance, on the lawn of Good Shepherd Episcopal Church in Milford.
“The amount of hatred in this world is stupefying, and having to acknowledge that hatred, like we’re doing here tonight, can feel downright unbearable,” Teague said.
He wanted everyone to hold tealight candles to summon “all the love we can muster, to shine a light on hatred, no matter how unbearable that may feel.” Shining a light on hatred exposes and eradicates it, he said. “That’s love to the highest power,” he said, “and for that, I am grateful for the day and for all of you.”
TriVersity’s vice president, Simone Kraus, talked about the many transgender people who have been murdered in the United States. “So even with ridicule, and being treated like a pariah in society, to family abandonment and being disowned, and with the possibility of being murdered for solely living our truth when we step out of our front door and into society, is the reason why Transgender Day of Remembrance is our most sacred day to my community,” she said.
Kraus said 353 transgender people were killed worldwide in 2020. They were suffocated and burned alive. The average age was 31 and the youngest only 15 years old. Twenty two percent of murdered transgender people were killed in their own homes. In Central and South America there were 287 such deaths, 152 of them in Brazil. Because many hate crimes and murders go unreported, the true number of deaths could be far higher, Kraus said. “America saw the most violent year against trans people ever recorded,” she said.
Kraus read the names of those who lost their lives to violence, describing them as their friends remembered them (see list with this article).
“Sadly, 2020 has seen too many transgender or gender non-conforming murders,” she said. “This has been the deadliest year in the transgender community.”
Father Van Bankston, rector of Good Shepherd Church, recited his Transgender Day of Remembrance prayer:
God of creation, Your creative power of life is ever before us in all its diversity.
God of Love, you weep with us in our grief and fear.
As we observe Transgender Day of Remembrance,
We pray for You to enfold in Your loving embrace
All those in our trans community whose precious lives have been cut short by fear, hatred, and violence
Because they were perceived to be different,
Because they had the courage to live their lives with truth, integrity, and openness,
Because they did not conform to someone else’s view of how they should live.
We remember and give thanks for the seasons of their lives,
For the love and friendship, they shared
And the ways in which they live their lives has been a gift to us all.
God of Peace, give comfort to all who mourn.
Give courage to our trans communities in the face of cruelty and harassment.
Challenge us, O God, to speak out for those who are silenced,
To stand with those who are bullied,
And to go with those who face danger.
God of Wonder, You are beyond gender.
You made each of us in your image.
Be with us today and always as we long for a day when every individual is safe and known and honored.
We ask this in Your Holy Name, who brings us all together in one human family.
At the conclusion of the evening, people talked in clusters of three or four. Many said they had no idea how horrible the crimes were, how pervasive the hate. One woman thanked Kraus for spotlighting the horror of the problem.
A man said, “TriVersity people take all the hate and transform it into hope and love.”