Providence Mayor Jorge Elorza joined members of the Providence Human Relations Commission (PHRC), TGI Network President Ethan Huckel, TGI Network Board Member Kayla Powell, MX Trans Rhode Island 2018 Payton James, local comedian and activist Nika Lomazzo and Support Group Leader with Youth Pride RI Lukas Hawthrone at City Hall to proclaim Tuesday, November 20 as Transgender Day of Remembrance in Providence.
Transgender Day of Remembrance is an international movement commemorating and honoring the lives of transgender and gender expansive individuals lost to violence and the injustices faced by transgender and gender expansive communities.
Observed every year on November 20, the Transgender Day of Remembrance was sparked by the murder of Rita Hester in Allston, Massachusetts which happened 20 years ago this month. The Transgender Day of Remembrance was then established in 1999 by Gwendolyn Ann Smith, a transgender activist, in memory of Rita Hester.
Various reports show that anti-transgender violence in the United States has been rising in recent years. According to the Human Rights Campaign, in 2017 advocates tracked at least 29 deaths of transgender people in the country due to fatal violence. This made it the deadliest year on record for transgender and gender expansive individuals, with the majority of deadly attacks being against women of color. Numbers for transgender people fatally shot or killed by other violent means in 2018 are trending to match that of 2017.
“Today on a day that we’re remembering all the people in our community who lost their lives in the past year, and recognizing that these are mostly women of color, and recognizing that we face more subtle forms of violence in our daily lives,” said emcee Kai LoMuscio, a member of the PHRC. “That we have just another reason to connect and the City of providence is raising a flag is raising a flag in support for us as transgender people. If it allows just one more person o treat us nicely and treat us with respect, and recognize our humanity, then it’s worth it.”
“In Providence we are proud to stand in solidarity with our transgender community,” said Elorza. “Transgender Day of Remembrance allows us to pay our respects to those who have tragically and unjustly lost theirs. While marginalized communities are targeted at the national level, we will continue to lead by example locally by creating a community here in Providence that allows all people to be free from discrimination, hatred and violence.”
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“Today is a somber day. Today is a day we are remembering all of the trans people, predominantly trans women of color, who have taken their lives, who have been murdered, who have been brutalized, misgendered by police departments, misgendered by reporters, etc…” said activist Nika Lomazzo. “It’s time now to rally around those people, those lives lost.”
“As we come together to recognize our losses and the hurt that our community has faced,” said MX Trans Rhode Island 2018 Payton James. “One of the things we can do is stand together and fight as one. Providence has always done an amazing job of standing together…”
“What can you do? If you’re sitting in this room and you’re not transgender, if you’re a cisgender person, what can you do?” said TGI Network Board Member Kayla Powell. “First of all, welcome transgender people into your community. It’s our community after all, we’re already a part of it. If you’re hiring, hire transgender people. We can do all of the same things. we have all of the same skills. If you’re a parent, if you’re a teacher, push for policies that keep transgender youth in school because, this is something that isn’t talked about, [but] bullying and harassment and kids being forced into home shooling and kids not getting the education that they need to succeed is a huge problem. Especially for transgender youth of color. So push for that. If you work in law enforcement, fight for training. Fight for sound policies and fight to give meaning to the oath you swore to protect and serve. I know that’s what you want to do.”
“Here in Providence there’s a lot being done to help folks feel safe,” said Lukas Hawthrone, support group leader at Youth Pride RI (YPI). “For me, personally, my entire transition has taken place here, in this city…”
“It is important that we remember the lives that have been taken away so violently from us,” said TGI Network President Ethan Huckel. “And that is not just the result of direct violence but the result of hate speech, bullying… it has an impact. I would include, in this list of people that we remember, all of the people that have taken their lives as a result of that environment.”
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