Last Week’s Transgender Day Of Remembrance Commemorates

Photo credit: Carina Mask

That’s the number of transgender women that have been killed this year.  These women were shot or violently killed.  Disproportionately, they are women of color.  

There are many issues related to reporting crimes of violence against transgender people.  The local police still continuously misgender victims in police reports. 

This year’s Transgender Day of Remembrance commemoration on Nov. 20 at the CIC in Miami with Arianna Center, SAVE and Human Rights Watch was a poignant reminder about the violence towards the transgender community and how excessive it truly is.  

Many of these events start with a candlelight vigil, church services, or reading a list of names of the lives who were lost since Nov. 20 of the previous year.  Arianna Lint of the Arianna Center and Translatina Coaltion of South Florida, decided to have different type of memorial this year. Instead, she invited all of her sisters, her warriors as she calls them, to give impassioned speeches and to share their stories.  

Lint welcomed everyone, and introduced Congresswoman Elect Donna Shalala.  

“There has been 369 killings of transgender people across the world, 22 just in the United States alone [in 2018],” Lint said. “We need as much support as possible, especially with this administration.”  

Shalala started off joking that SAVE used to be known as SAVE Dade, but should possibly be renamed SAVE Shalala because without their efforts, Shalala wouldn’t have been elected.  

Shalala began speaking about Sylvia Ray Rivera of the Stonewall Riots, the civil rights pioneer, the activist, and founding member of the Gay Liberation Front and Gay Activists Alliance.  

“ t was my first encounter with a trans woman, it was a long conversation,” Shalala said pausing.  “That was probably 40 years ago, I had a conversation with her [Sylvia Rivera] and I remember conversation and all the pain, and especially today as we remember all of those that we have lost in this country.  As long as our leaders in Washington or Florida embolden white supremacy, trans phobia, and gender discrimination of any kind, they are not friends of the LGBTQ community.”

When Shalala finished, Lint introduced Lala Zannell and invited her to the podium to speak about how important it is to have allies, and what being an ally truly means.

Lala Zannell, the lead organizer at the New York City Anti-Violence project who also oversees their Rapid Incident Response team which responds to incidents of hate violence, sexual violence or intimate partner violence impacting the LGBTQ and HIV positive community spoke passionately about how disproportionately violence is affecting the transgender and gender non conforming people of color. 

“Have you every seen a trans woman before?  Oh, then you should already know that’s cause for celebration,” Zannell said. “When you see a trans person walk in through that door, you better treat them like Beyonce, because you don’t know what it took to get here, and you don’t know if I make it home.”

Zannell also spoke about what it means to be an ally to the trans community. 

“Being an ally means, you show up, not for a badge, not for some tax [break], it means you show up. You’re not looking for praise, you’re there because it’s the right thing to do,” Zannell said pausing for a moment, then continued, “I am a privileged black transwoman, I am blessed to have a job, I am blessed to have a salary, and benefits and roof over my head, I feel affirmed, but I ain’t forgot about when I had to work the highways and byways and hit that track and going into that car just praying that I make it out of that car alive, praying that I didn’t get arrested, praying that I didn’t get beaten and killed.”  

Zannell continued to speak with that same fervor and vigor for the entire speech. She also spoke about how to get involved in the local trans community, simply by reaching out to trans organizations such as Arianna Center, or TransInclusive,  and TransSocial, and how ally-ship can be as simple as just showing up, providing a safe ride, helping with finding employment, giving clothes, giving food, or even providing  a safe space.