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Hyde Park, Woodlawn, South Shore

Transgender Day Of Remembrance Vigil To Honor 5 Trans Women Killed In Chicago Area

Every Nov. 20, Transgender Day of Remembrance honors the memory of trans people whose lives were lost in acts of anti-trans violence.

Jae Rice (left), a trans-masculine activist and communications coordinator at Brave Space Alliance, and Alexis Abarca, a trans activist, lead protesters through the North Side during a Black Trans Lives Matter march in 2020.
Jake Wittich/Block Club Chicago
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HYDE PARK — Two Black- and trans-led groups are holding a vigil and town hall Saturday for Transgender Day of Remembrance after a particularly deadly year for local trans people.

The Transgender Day of Remembrance event will be held by Brave Space Alliance, a South Side LGBTQ center, and Life is Work, a West Side organization focusing on housing and workforce development for transgender people.

The event runs from 11 a.m.-3 p.m. Saturday at Room 43, 1039-1041 E. 43rd St. There will be a vigil, town hall and community luncheon, according to Brave Space Alliance.

Transgender Day of Remembrance occurs every year on Nov. 20 to honor the memory of trans people whose lives were lost in acts of anti-trans violence.

Transgender Day of Remembrance was started in 1999 by trans advocate Gwendolyn Ann Smith as a vigil to honor Rita Hester, a trans woman killed in 1998, according to GLAAD. The vigil commemorated all trans people killed since Hester’s death and became an annual tradition.

Since last year’s observance, the Chicago area has seen at least five Black transgender women killed:

Credit: Provided
Brianna Hamilton, 26, (left) and Disaya Monaee Smith, 27.
Credit: Provided
From left: Tiara Banks, Tyianna Alexander and Courtney Eshay Key.

The five killings account for the highest number of anti-trans murders in Illinois for one year, according to Brave Space Alliance.

Murders of transgender people are at an all-time high. Nationally, at least 46 trans people have been killed in 2021, marking the deadliest year on record for transgender people, according to the Human Rights Campaign.

Last year, at least 44 transgender people were killed across the United States, according to the Human Rights Campaign.

“Historically, trans [and] gender-nonconforming communities have been underserved and under-resourced, experiencing numerous health and social-economic disparities due to trauma, domestic violence, sexual assaults, molestation, racism, transphobia and stigma,” according to Brave Space Alliance’s event page.

Saturday’s town hall will include a space for members of the community to discuss issues they face and how they contribute to violence against transgender people.

People are encouraged to register online to attend Saturday’s event.

Jake Wittich is a Report for America corps member covering Lakeview, Lincoln Park and LGBTQ communities across the city for Block Club Chicago.

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