One by one they read aloud the names of the fallen, the day they passed and too often their horrible cause of death.
Transgender Day of Remembrance came to the Pride Center in Wilton Manors as an occasion to memorialize those lives lost. Transgender individuals who were, in some instances, merely occupying space.
“We are still being victimized,” said Cruz, wearing a crown on her head and acting in an emcee role. Cruz introduced Wilton Manors Commissioner Julie Carson, who addressed the audience and stated that if there was anyone in the building feeling threatened then they should call her.
“This is our city,” Carson said. “When you enter this city you are in a sanctuary to work, play and live.”
Carson issued a proclamation on behalf of Wilton Manors to officially recognize Transgender Day of Remembrance (TDOR).
“You should always be safe here,” she said.
Broward School Board Member, Dr. Rosalyn Osgood took the podium and stated her connection to the faith based community.
“As decent human beings we have an obligation to care for each other,” said Osgood, who went on to apologize for the way in which some church members have rejected transgender people.
Musician Terri Catlin performed a touching rendition of “American Girl,” saying she shared in the memorial’s pain. Catlin later played the piano as participants lined up to read the names of the dead.
Jodi Reichman, who said she identified as an ally, said, “No one should be subjected to violence simply because of their gender identity.”
Reichman said there are many people who seek to erase transgender people – some in the most brutal ways possible. Reichman was in tears when she spoke.
“Respect people for who they are,” Reichman lashed out. “And not who you want them to be.”
Added Osgood, “Death brings tears to our heart that are often overwhelming.”
Despite the evening’s dark tone, Pride Center Chief Executive Officer Robert Boo pledged the center’s full support.
“For 21 years we have provided a nurturing, safe space,” Boo said. “So often the transgender community is not supported and we need to correct that.”
After the readings and speeches, participants gathered in small talk while munching on catering from a nearby restaurant. One participant, human rights activist Michael Rajner, posed for photographs with his dog, Gidget, in between chatting with transgender YouTube sensation Jazz Jennings.
“It’s a struggle I will never understand,” said Rajner, a gay man.
It was at Rajner’s urging that U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson (D-Florida) recently signed on to a federal bill that includes transgender protections.
Rajner said he had traveled recently to Miami where a commission is scheduled to hear a proposed ordinance involving Transgender people.
“The opposition is trying to vilify Transgender people,” Rajner said.