Many Episcopal churches across the country held services yesterday in honor of transgender people who were killed as a result of their gender identity. By August of this year, twenty transgender people had been murdered, primarily women of color. They ranged in age from 16 (Kedarie/Kandicee Johnson, who identified as genderfluid and used the pronoun they), to 52 (Jasmine Sierra, a transwoman from California). Victims of transphobic violence are often misgendered by the media, adding to the grief of their loved ones.
St John the Evangelist Episcopal Church in Stockton, CA, hosted the city’s 8th annual Transgender Day of Remembrance ceremony, which was also sponsored by a number of local LGBTQI+ activism groups. One of these organizations, the San Joaquin Pride Center, is hoping to work with local authorities to fight human trafficking, as many transgender youth fall victim to traffickers when they are rejected by their families for coming out.
According to “Injustice at Every Turn: A Report of the National Transgender Discrimination Survey” published in 2011 by the National Center for Transgender Equality and the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force:
Medical providers and health systems, government agencies, families, businesses and employers, schools and colleges, police departments, jail and prison systems — each of these systems and institutions is failing daily in its obligation to serve transgender and gender nonconforming people, instead subjecting them to mistreatment ranging from commonplace disrespect to outright violence, abuse and the denial of human dignity.
The consequences of these widespread injustices are human and real, ranging from unemployment and homelessness to illness and death.
In Key West, St Paul’s Episcopal Church hosted a vigil where the names of trans people murdered in the past year were read. Dignity New York held a liturgy at St John’s Episcopal Church, NYC. Similar services were held across the country in churches and community centers.
At an event in Yakima, WA, held at St. Michael’s Episcopal Church, The Rev. Bill Poores of the Rainbow Cathedral Metropolitan Community Church condemned the silence of “conservative Christians” about violence against trans people. “This silence gives approval to those who commit such atrocities,” Poores said,“We need to speak up. We need to let the world know we stand with our transgender brothers and sisters.” (NB. Trans people prefer non-gendered terms like “siblings” instead of “brothers and sisters,” which excludes non-binary people).
The Transgender Day of Remembrance was founded in 1999, to commemorate the killing of a transgender woman, Rita Hester, in Massachusetts.