Thursday, November 20, 2008

Those Who Can’t Remember Our Past are Doomed to Repeat It

This evening PFLAG National will honor the 10th Annual Transgender Day of Remembrance at the Metropolitan Community Church (474 Ridge Street NW, Washington, D.C.) at 6:30 pm. The annual event marks a solemn tribute to those who have lost their lives to anti-transgender hatred and also aims to raise awareness of the constant reality of unembarrassed harassment and violence experienced by transgender and gender non-conforming communities.

In this year alone we have lost a record number of transgender and gender non-conforming people because of unembarrassed brutality. While we may be familiar with the names and narratives of some people like Lawrence King, Angie Zapata, Duanna Johnson and most recently Latiesha Green, it is important to note that others are no longer with us this year because of the same kind of ignorance, fear and brutality we have read about in these more popular narratives.

The commencement of Transgender Day of Remembrance was intended to honor Rita Hester, who was murdered in 1998. Her death led to the "Remembering Our Dead" project and a San Francisco candlelight vigil in 1999. Since 1998, the event has become more ubiquitous - dozens of cities all across the country including the nation’s capital pay tribute to those we have lost. November 20th is also honored as an international day of solidarity to end anti-transgender hatred and prejudice by countries including Turkey, Germany, Italy, the UK amongst many others.

It is our hope that one day anti-transgender hatred and, more generally, gender oppression will no longer be portrayed as virtuous and morally defensible by those who falsely use their faiths or culture as justification. In order to get to this day where we celebrate gender diversity, it is imperative that we continue to educate our friends, family members and potential allies about the cruel and unjust treatment that so many of our transgender and gender-nonconforming family and friends experience on a daily basis. On this special day, we challenge you to take a friend to your local Transgender Day of Remembrance Memorial, pay tribute to those that we have lost, and begin the dialogue discussing how we can build a better future free from anti-transgender hatred.

-Rhodes Perry

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