November 20 is the National Transgender Day of Remembrance, a day in which many pause to remember transgender victims of violence, intolerance and injustice.
In Washington, Transgender Health Empowerment (THE) and several other local organization are teaming up to commemorate the event with a gathering at the Metropolitan Community Church of Washington D.C. on Thursday, Nov. 18.
Amanda Simpson, one of the first transgender presidential appointees who currently serves as the senior technical advisor to the Commerce Department, will be the keynote speaker.
Brian Watson, director of programs at THE, says he’s also enthusiastic to have Oasis, an LGBT dance troupe, performing a tribute piece to the many LGBT youth who have committed suicide in recent months.
”It’s always a very nice event and we usually get a packed house,” Watson says. ”We have everything from the candlelight portion where we call out names to remember people who have passed, to [a choral performance].”
The Covenant Baptist Church’s choir will sing at the MCC event.
”We have a wide range of things that are going to happen throughout the evening, some a little more sad, some a little more joyful or more high-spirited just to pay homage to those who we have lost throughout the years.”
Organizations helping THE produce the event include the DC Trans Coalition, Whitman-Walker Clinic, Youth Pride Alliance, Gays and Lesbians Opposing Violence and The Center, the area’s LGBT community center.
Watson says he will be thinking about friends he has lost over the past four years of his work at THE.
”I definitely will be thinking about the transgender women I have known that I’ve lost that were friends of mine, as well as the murders of the transgender women that still have not been solved.”
While local transgender activist Jessica McKinnon, organizer of 2010’s D.C. Trans Pride event, supports commemorating a day in which transgender victims are remembered, she is not planning to attend the MCC gathering.
”I tend to just be a little more private about it. … I respect those that have lost their lives and especially those who have lost their lives in a brutal manner. However, I am not a religious person so I tend to shy away from religious services,” she says.
”I have sometimes gone to Transgender Day of Remembrance events sometimes after the service just to be with people and just to participate in that way,” she says, adding that this year her work schedule will keep her from doing that.
Still, McKinnon says the day serves an important purpose.
”I think that it is important to remember that there is still a lot of work to be done and I think that this a way for people to be able to renew that focus.”
Watson echoes that sentiment.
”This is really the only day that the transgender community gets every year and we really want to see people come out and show their support.”
THE will commemorate Transgender Day of Remembrance beginning at 6:30 p.m., at MCC-DC, 474 Ridge St. NW. For more info call THE at 202-636-1646.