Community Observes Transgender Day of Remembrance

The annual day of solidarity marks West Hollywood's transgender awareness month and memorializes victims of hate crimes.

The city celebrated the 14th annual Transgender Day of Remembrance on Tuesday at the West Hollywood Library.

The event, which was mirrored by similar festivities around the world, took place in front of the library's entrance and featured a reception, guest speakers, musicians, thespians and a reading of the names of transgender people who have died as a result of violence and hatred.   

Violent killings claimed the lives of 265 transgender people over the last 12 months, according to the Transgender Murder Monitoring project.

"This is our time to get together and remember our fallen heroes and also to reunite with family, to remember that we're all in this struggle together and our efforts to make the world better are influential around the world," said West Hollywood Transgender Advisory Board President Drian Juarez.

The goal of the advisory board's Day of Remembrance event is "to get people together to realize that they're not alone in this struggle and to also memorialize the people who have sacrificed the ultimate, and that is their lives, to be who they are," Juarez added.

"This is a really important event to remember those we lost due to hatred and prejudice to keep the memory alive that to this day, this violence is still happening in our community," former advisory board President Coco Lachine said. "But we're also here to talk about the many strides we have made here in West Hollywood. For the first time anywhere, the city has declared November Transgender Awareness Month. No other city in the United States has done that."

West Hollywood City Council members attended the event.

"West Hollywood was born within the gay and lesbian civil rights movement," Mayor Jeffrey Prang said. "While we're still fighting for equal rights for gays and lesbians throughout the country, our transgender brothers and sisters are still struggling. They're still 20 or 30 years behind."

In addition to the threat of hate-crime violence, the mayor noted difficulty transgender people have with "getting housing, keeping employment, fitting into society. There's a plague with drug addiction and prostitution, and we try to create critical infrastructure both socially and politically for the transgender community to be able to represent themselves and to advocate on their behalf as our friends and neighbors, partners and fellow residents."

Councilman John Duran spoke of a pledge he made to a close friend and colleague, the late HIV/AIDS activist Connie Norman, to support the transgender community.

"On her deathbed she made me promise her that I would take care of what she called 'her trannies,'" Duran said. "I promised her I would do that, so that's why I'm here every year."


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