The LGBT Center in Orange County held their remembrance ceremony on Sunday Nov. 18 on 4th street in downtown Santa Ana.
The first TDOR, originally named “Remember our Dead,” was held in 1999 by Gwendolyn Ann Smith. It began as a remembrance for her friend Rita Hester who died in 1998. Hester died after being stabbed 20 times during an anti-transgender attack in Boston and to this day, the case currently remains unsolved. (tdor.info)
There were 24 confirmed deaths in the U.S. through Oct. 2018 that were linked to transphobia. Viccky Gutierrez, 33, from Los Angeles, was the first transgender woman of color to be killed in 2018 from transgender violence.(hrc.org)
The host of the event, Miliana Singh, read the names of each victim during the candle lighting ceremony, along with a few words from their loved ones. With each name she read Singh lit a candle to signify that the person was, “still with us,” in spirit.
The ages of this year’s victims ranged from 18 to 54 years old with the majority being trans women of color. The FBI reported that in 2017 there were 1,130 hate crimes and 119 of those were from anti-gender identity incidents. (ucr.fbi.gov)
“This day shouldn’t exist,” said Laura Kanter, director of policy, advocacy and youth program as she spoke to the attendees.
Kanter said that people do not understand the community and are afraid. She spoke about educating people by going out into the community and to get to know the community. This may help bring awareness to know who do not know much about this community.
“People have been misinformed and base opinions on other’s opinions,” said Robin Denburg, a resident from Placentia in attendance. “Opinions should be based on their own interactions with the LGBT community.”
Veronica Phillips, who has been a part of the TDOR since it’s creation and is a friend of Smith, was also there to speak at the event.
“We all bleed red,” said Phillips. This is a metaphor that states transgender people are the same as non-transgender people.
Phillips runs the BeingMe-OC support group, the group offers support for trans-women. The group also offers an opportunity for friends and family of trans women to join and discuss within a safe space. The BeingMe-OC website offers links to medical and additional assistance for the many stages of transitioning. (beingme-oc.org)
The LGBT Center OC offers a safe space and assistance in obtaining medical services for the transitioning process. They also offer mental health services that include individual and group therapy sessions for those in need.
There are a number of legal services for transitioning persons, including assistance with name and gender changes. Immigration resources are also available for the entire community.
For more information about the center or to get contact information go their website. A list of all events and additional services are also available on this website. www.lgbtcenteroc.org.