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The Trans Day of Remembrance celebrates history, mourns losses



Justice Gaines and Chrysanthemum Tran

The Trans Day of Remembrance is “an annual day of observance to remember the lives lost to anti-trans violence as well as to celebrate past trans and queer leaders that inspire us to resist.”

“At least 25 transgender people have been killed in the United States since the beginning of 2017,” says a report from the Human Rights Campaign. “84 percent of them were people of color, and 80 percent were women. More than three in four were under the age of 35.

“We say at least’ because the stories detailed in this report very likely undercount the number of transgender people who were killed in the United States this year,” continues the report. “Data collection is often incomplete or unreliable when it comes to violent and fatal crimes against transgender people. Some victims’ deaths may go unreported, while others may not be identified as transgender in the media, often because authorities, journalists and/or family members refuse to acknowledge their gender identity.”

Tati Hall

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The names of all the victims were read aloud by Rabbi Howard Voss-Altman of Temple Beth El in Providence as a slideshow was projected on screen.

But the event was not just about those lost, it was also about the resiliency of those who are still with us. It was about the history of trans people, especially trans women of color. 

Did you know Marsha P Johnson denies that she threw the first brick at the Stonewall Uprising? I didn’t. Justice Gaines, a Providence poet, spoke about Johnson, separating the woman from her myth, which had the counter-intuitive effect of exalting her accomplishments and impact, not diminishing them.

Tatiana Jones

Kah Yangni read an essay by black, lesbian civil rights activist Audre Lorde. Tati Hall, from the Providence Student Union, talked about their life as a trans, poor, youth of color. A video was shown of Sylvia Rivera taking the mic at a 1973 gay liberation rally in New York. Rivera took the mic because it was not given to her. It was amazing to hear the crowd boo and taunt Rivera at first, only to be cheering for her at the end.

There was an amazing poetry performance by Chrysanthemum Tran. Lastly, Tatiana Jones spoke about her life and her work with Project Weber/RENEW.

All the video can be seen below.

The event was held at the Southside Cultural Center and sponsored by Providence Youth Student Movement (PrYSM), Rhode Island Pride, Black & Pink, Transformative Justice Law Project of Illinois (TJLP), Direct Action for Rights and Equality (DARE).

A number of transgender supportive organizations tabled at the event, including the TGI Network of Rhode Island, Thundermist Health Center, Sojourner House, The Center for Sexual Pleasure and Health, Project Weber/RENEW, Direct Action for Rights and Equality’s Tenant & Homeowner Association, AMOR (Alianza Mobilizando y Organizando Resistencia), the Community Defense Project, the Community Safety Act and Black and Pink Providence.

Justice Gaines and August Guang

Kah Yangni

August Guang

Rabbi Howard Voss-Altman