Each year, November 20 is set aside to observe Transgender Day of Remembrance which honors the memory of those whose lives were lost in acts of anti-transgender violence.
Transgender Day of Remembrance was begun by transgender activist Gwendolyn Ann Smith in 1999. It started with a vigil to honor Rita Hester, a highly visible member of the Boston transgender community. She worked locally to bring education and awareness around transgender issues. On November 18, 1998, Rita was stabbed 20 times in her apartment. A neighbor called the police and Rita was rushed to the hospital where she passed away from cardiac arrest moments after being admitted. Though no official motive was found for the murder, many believed it to be a hate crime because there was no property stolen and no signs of forced entry. The loss of Rita was devastating to the Boston transgender community.
On the one-year anniversary of Rita’s murder, Smith organized a vigil to honor Rita, as well as all those who were lost due to anti-transgender violence. Smith also launched the Transgender Day of Remembrance website to recognize and remember the transgender lives lost in the past year due to violence.
According to a 2016 report from the National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs, of the 77 recorded hate-crimes, 28 were anti-LGBTQ homicides, aside from the events at the Pulse Nightclub in Orlando, FL. This is up 17% from 2015. Of those non-Pulse homicides, 68% were transgender and gender non-conforming people. (The Pulse Nightclub shooting occurred when a man killed 49 people and wounded 53 others during Latin night at a gay nightclub in Orlando, FL in June of 2016. It is sometimes not included in statistics because the identities of the lives taken could not be confirmed, though many news outlets reported that the majority of victims were LGBTQ and Latinx.) You can find more information about these statistics and their data collection methods at: https://avp.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/06/NCAVP_2016HateViolence_REPORT.pdf
As an organization that is focused on creating a region free of HIV infections and stigmas, Caring Communities always keeps in mind that the transgender community is at high risk for HIV infection. Between 2009-2014, there were 2,351 HIV diagnoses in the US transgender community. Our agency strives to help those at risk by providing free and confidential HIV testing. We also offer PrEP services at our Hazleton Clinic. PrEP (pre-exposure prophylaxis) is a daily pill that can prevent HIV transmission if someone is exposed to it.
Caring Communities is open to all genders and here to help. If you or someone you know is interested in learning more about PrEP or our other services, please contact us at 570-829-2700.