Violence against the transgender community is on the rise — to honor those who have lost their lives, Nov. 20 is national Transgender Day of Remembrance.
according to Trans Respect Versus Transphobia Worldwide. This number does not account for unreported murders, which could skew the statistics.
The LGBTQ Resource Center gathered at the University of New Mexico’s Duck Pond Monday evening to commemorate transgender people whose lives were lost as a result of hate crimes.
Around 6 p.m. the resource center was filled with members of the community who were reminiscing and connecting with each other. The first half hour of the event involved socializing and indulging in traditional Hispanic eats.
Attendees then walked as a group from the LGBTQ Resource Center to the Duck Pond, where a large tent sported flags representing the transgender community.
The tent also had several rows of chairs — which was not nearly enough to seat all of the attendees When chairs ran out, people stood in the back of the tent to continue to pay their respects.
The ceremony began with a traditional blessing of the copal. A prayer was said in the traditional Diné language by a member of the Towering House People Clan in honor of lost transgender lives.
After the blessings, there were several speakers who added insight to the principles of the event. The ceremony concluded with a sentimental candle lighting. The candles were given to each of the attendees.
“I’m here to support and remember all the things that (the transgender community) has overcome and had to fight for in the past,” said Eris Hanks who attended the event. “If we were to forget about what has happened in the past and all the struggles and what we’ve overcome...people won’t care.”
The event also focused on raising awareness of increasing crime rates against the transgender community.
“We hope that one day we don’t have to do this event anymore,” said Frankie Flores, the education coordinator of the LGBTQ Resource Center.
“It’s such an honor for us to do this (event) — to honor not only our trans family that has left us, but our trans family that is still here,” he said. “This event isn’t only about those who have passed on, but this event is for remembering those who are still with us — so thank you for your courage and your strength for being here every day.”
The event was meant not only to remember the victims of violence against the transgender community, but also to celebrate the progression of this community’s growing inclusiveness in society.
“There (are) a lot of things we need to work on,” Hanks said. “Things like this raise awareness so that we won’t step down, and we can be out in the open about who we are and be comfortable.”
Rebecca Brusseau is a news and culture reporter at the Daily Lobo. She primarily covers the LGBTQ community. She can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com or on Twitter @r_brusseau.