When Rajee Narinesingh accepted a city proclamation declaring Nov. 20 as “Transgender Remembrance Day,” her voice cracked with emotion. The proclamation, presented at the Nov. 12 City Commission meeting, also pronounced Nov. 13-19 as Transgender Awareness Week.
“My prayer is that what the (LGBT) flags represents is truly the reality for our community,” said Narinesingh, a transgender activist who was targeted and brutally beaten in 2002. “I am so thankful to God that I lived to see these better days. I’ve been able to see these better days for transgender people here in this county. We’ve come a long way but we have a long way to go.”
The pink, blue and white transgender flag has been flying at Jaycee Park for the past week, and will continue flying through the Nov. 20.
The Transgender Day of Remembrance Service will be from 7 to 9 p.m. on Nov. 20 at the Schubert Building at the Pride Center, at 2040 N. Dixie Highway. The public is invited to attend. Twenty-two transgender people have been killed nationally in 2019 to date, Narinesingh said.
“It’s the day we honor our fallen. These trans people who were killed because of who they are paid the ultimate price,” Narinesingh said. “The trans community deals with so many injustices regarding employment, housing, healthcare, health insurance and just maneuvering around our community.”
Wednesday’s keynote speaker Tatiana Williams, a black trans woman, said events like the remembrance service offer an important chance for community members to share stories that highlight the risks faced by transgender people.
Williams said a close transgender friend was fatally shot in 1999 in front of her. Her friend’s murder, along with the deaths of a few other acquaintances, were never solved, she said.
“Nothing happened. Their deaths were not investigated. It was like their lives didn’t matter,” Williams said. “Things are a little better today. Now you can get an officer to at least look at the case.”
Wilton Manors began flying the transgender flag on certain occasions in 2017. In March 2017, the City Commission voted unanimously to fly the transgender flag on International Transgender Day of Visibility (March 31), Transgender Flag Day (Aug. 19), Transgender Day of Remembrance (Nov. 20), and the week of the city’s Stonewall Festival in June.
In her speech to the City Commission on Nov. 12, Narinesingh noted that Wilton Manors has declined to fly the transgender flag year round.
“I think it’s been two occasions where the request was turned down,” she said on Nov. 12. “I understand why. Because we have an LGBT flag, our rainbow flag, that represents the unification of our community. I’m one of the trans people in the community who understands why that flag is supposed to be enough for us.”