Scrolling through Facebook, I came upon an article written in NewNowNext by Kate Sosin. Sosin can be found on Twitter with the handle @shoeleatherkate.
I learned for 20 years, transgender people hold a candle light vigil on November 20th to honor their slain members. It is a pain filled way to mark time passing by.
Transgender Day of Remembrance began in 1999 when San Fransisco and Boston held vigils in honor of Rita Hester.
Hester was a transgender, black woman whom was found stabbed to death in November of 1998. A few papers ran coverage of the tragic homicide, referring to Hester as a man. A local LGBTQ paper insisted on calling Hester a “man.”
The community of transgender people were angry. That anger was used to learn how many in their community had been murdered. They questioned why had another member died?
Gwendolyn Ann Smith ask those questions. Smith was a transgender woman living in San Francisco when Hester died. The similarities between Hester and another transgender, black woman whom was murdered in 1995; Chanelle Pickett.
Smith wanted to educate people about transgender communities. Smith created the Remembering Our Dead project, honoring homicide victims. Then Boston and San Francisco held their 1st vigils for Rita Hester. November 20th was the date chosen for the vigils because Pickett died on that day.
Smith’s project along with TDOR marked a new change for the LGBTQ community, especially the transgender people. For years transgender people had suffered humiliation and ridicule from law enforcement, reporters, and their peers. Finally, they had their rights and dignity in tact.