Transgender Day of Remembrance occurs on Nov. 20 as a day to remember transgender people who were killed as a result of their gender identity or gender expression. With 21 trans women killed so far this year, the list of victims has dramatically outpaced last year’s. According to the Human Rights Commission, transgender deaths were reported from Miami to Los Angeles. In nearly every case, the victim was a trans woman of color, each murder was brutal and there have been arrests in only a handful of cases.
Around the country, vigils are held on Nov. 20 where the names of those killed are read. This year, that list includes two names from Florida. Kristina Grant Infiniti, also known as Kristina Gomez Reinwald, was originally ruled a suicide, but later changed to a homicide. Several attempts to reach Miami-Dade police for an update on the case were unsuccessful.
India Clark, a black trans woman in Tampa, was viciously shot in the head and arm and left on a basketball court in July. Adding insult to injury, authorities initially misidentified her as a ‘man in women’s clothing.’ Police arrested an 18-year-old man in connection with her death. Investigators said DNA, including evidence found under Clarke’s fingernails and a condom found in the car, linked the suspect to Clarke’s death. Her death drew the attention of “Orange is the New Black” star Laverne Cox, who posted a picture of Clarke on her Instagram page and wrote a tribute to her.
Landon ‘LJ’ Woolston, who is organizing one of this year’s events, says the Transgender Day of Remembrance is about paying respects to those who are no longer and much more.
“11/20 is really about honoring those we’ve lost, being mindful of those who cannot be there, and embracing and celebrating the transgender individuals in our community who are present in the room,” he said. “This evening serves, too, to remind us all that we, as individuals, as a community, as a country, as a world, simply must do better. At our event (at Barry University) we add a resiliency component to the evening because there are many, many trans folks in our community who have survived and overcome some very dark times… For these transgender individuals, for whom survival is often the primary priority, we acknowledge their resiliency and strength to continue fighting,” Woolston said.
For many in the trans community, that strength comes amid the fear of violence. “Many of my fellow transwomen of color experience fear of leaving their houses, half expecting to be the next target of hate,” said activist Aryah Lester. “I myself anticipate the fatal stab or gunshot when amongst public groups of people. You never know when ignorance will lead to a threat of your life, especially with the alarming number of deaths this year.”
There are three major events taking place throughout South Florida on Friday, Nov. 20.
Where: Pride Center, Main Hall, Schubert Building, 20140 N Dixie Highway, Wilton Manors
When: 7 p.m. to 9 p.m.
What: There will be an evening of commemoration/call to action for those who were killed due to bias and hatred based on gender identity.
Where: Barry University, Andreas School of Business, 11300 NE 2ND Ave, Miami Shores
When: 7 p.m. to 9 p.m.
What: This event is planned by local trans community members (youth and adults), in partnership with Barry University. This year’s venue is a bigger and cooler location on campus, so all trans folks and all community members standing in solidarity with the trans community are welcome.
Palm Beach County
Where: Compass, 201 N Dixie Hwy, Lake Worth
When: 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m.
What: There will be a candlelight vigil followed by an Open Mic, Music, Poetry, Performances, featuring live performance by the Palm Beach Opera, #LGBTQ youth and the PB Gender Society. $5 Suggested Donation. Doors open at 6:15 p.m. Show starts at 6:30 p.m.