Today marks the 15th National Transgender Day of Remembrance, the beacon of National Transgender Awareness Month (yes, that’s this month) and catalyst of a bevvy of vigils being held across the region this evening to honor those killed as a result of transphobia. It was founded in 1998 to celebrate the memory of Rita Hester, who was found dead in her Boston apartment, stabbed 20 times in the chest. (We’re going to take a wild guess and say that “20” number is why we’re commemorating today.)
For some perspective, let’s absorb some startling factual tidbits:
- The Transgender Murder Monitoring Project reports that 238 (!) trans individuals were slain in the past year.
- Of those 238, 16 happened in the United States.
- A National Center for Transgender Equality report from 2011 found that 41 percent of 6,400 respondents indicated they had attempted suicide in the past year. (That’s 25 times the rate of the general population.)
- Eighty percent of transgender students report feeling physical unsafe in school. (GLSEN 2011 School Climate Survey)
- That same survey found that only 21 percent of successfully transitioned individuals have been able to switch genders on all IDs and records.
And of course, the issue hits awfully close to home: In July, Diamond Williams was murdered in Strawberry Mansion, dismembered by her attacker and thrown in a vacant lot. Charles Sargent was later arrested and charged in connection with the crime. (On a related note, you can soon keep track of local trans-violence incidences through a new database just funded on Kickstarter — courtesy of Princeton, N.J.-based Allison Woolbert. Score.)
Below, you can find (nearly) all of the trans-remembrance vigils being held in the region tonight:
- William Way Community Center: 7-8 p.m., 1315 Spruce St.
- Drexel University: 6-7 p.m., 3400 Market St. (the “Dragon Statue”)
- University of Pennsylvania: 6:30-8:30 p.m., 3907 Spruce St. (Penn LGBT Center)
- Drexel Hill: 6:30-7:30 p.m., 5290 Township Line Road (Collenbrook United Church)
- Bryn Mawr: 6-7 p.m., 101 N. Merion Ave.