Transgender Day of Remembrance 2024 is on Wednesday, November 20, 2024: Anyone have a story of triumph that they'd like to share on this 8th Transgender Day of Remembrance?
Wednesday, November 20, 2024 is Transgender Day of Remembrance 2024. Trans Day of Remembrance Transgender Day of Remembrance is Nov. 20: find an event or more info
Transgender Day of Remembrance (TDoR), which occurs annually on 20 November, is a day to memorialize those who have been killed as a result of transphobia, or the hatred or fear of transgender and gender non-conforming people, and acts to bring attention to the continued violence endured by the transgender community.
The Transgender Day of Rememberance is an international candlelight vigil held every year on November 20, to commemorate those transgender and transsexual people who's lives were taken from them through violent acts of murder from people who are too closed minded to understand or try a little tolerance.
The idea for this memorial came while posting to a message board in the Transgender Community Forum on America Online, discussing the murder of Rita Hester and the wrongful death/survivor’s action for Tyra Hunter. So many had forgotten some of the individuals we had lost in only the recent past and I felt that, by forgetting those individuals, we would be doomed to see their deaths repeated. Indeed, the passing of Rita Hester is similar enough to the death of Chanelle Pickett to leave one wondering.
We have lost so many people in our community to the hand of hatred and predjudice, yet we still are not seemingly willing to fight back. Meanwhile, we die at the hands of a lover, of police, of medical practitioners, and even parents, while the news media calls us “freaks” — and worse.
In fact, the media’s reluctance to cover our deaths lies near the heart of this project. It can be all-but-impossible to find honest, reliable media on the death of a transgendered person: It either does not exist (which is how one can cover thirty years of cases and still only have as many as I have to present), or it uses names that the deceased did not own, and pronouns that did not fit their reality.
There is no “safe way” to be transgendered: as you look at the many names collected here, note that some of these people may have identified as drag queens, some as heterosexual crossdressers, and some as transsexuals. Some were living very out lives, and some were living fully “stealth” lives. Some were identifying as male, and some, as female. Some lived in small towns, and some in major metropolitan areas.
In fact, one thing that has come to light in doing this project is how much more is yet to be done. Over the last decade, one person per month has died due to transgender-based hate or prejudice, regardless of any other factors in their lives. This trend shows no sign of abating.
I’m reminded of the words of a writer, Ralph Werther (also known as Jennie June and Earl Lind) who, in 1922, said, “Child of English Culture, reflect a moment, and ask yourself whether you are at last, in this great enlightened century of man’s existence, willing to grant justice and humane treatment to the androgyne and gynander? Do you still insist that these sexual cripples continue to suffer physical and mental torture for another century because your own pleasure bulks too large for you to hear and bear the truth about the despairing cross-sexed?”
The language may be antiquated, but the feelings are the same: will we be willing to bear yet another century of violence and hatred aimed at those who do not so easily wear “man” or “woman?”
When you look at the names here, remember these people. Cry for those who we have lost, and let your anger out for a society that would allow them to die.
The Murder of Chanelle Pickett
Chanelle Pickett, a young (23) black “pre-operative” transsexual woman, was found dead in the apartment of William Palmer, 35, a computer programmer, on November 20, 1995. According to the report of the police-appointed medical examiner, Chanelle had died of strangulation. She also suffered bruises about the face consistent with having received a severe beating. Palmer denied having murdered her, claiming that she died while he slept.
Chanelle met Palmer at Playland, Boston’s oldest gay bar and a downtown Boston hangout popular with trans girls. According to Chanelle’s twin sister Gabrielle, Chanelle thought Palmer was genuinely interested in having a relationship with her. On Sunday evening, November 19, the three of them indulged in some crack cocaine together. When Palmer was unable to convince Gabrielle to join them in a threesome, he took Chanelle to his apartment. Later that night Palmer’s roommates heard loud noises coming from his room and knocked on the door to ask if everything was OK, but he said he had the situation under control. The next day, at the advice of his lawyer, Palmer reported Chanelle’s death to the police, and was eventually charged with first-degree murder.
On December 10, about 250 people attended a memorial service followed by a candlelight vigil in memory of Chanelle. Many of those in attendance did not know Chanelle, but appreciated the ongoing struggle of all transgender people represented by her murder.
In the ensuing murder trial, judge William Barton did not allow the jury to see photographs of Chanelle’s bruised and bloodied face. The medical examiner testified to death by strangulation, but the jury believed the medical witnesses for the defense. Palmer’s lawyer incited the prejudices of the jury, repeatedly referred to Chanelle’s “bizarre” transformation that took place as she struggled for her life, her voice and manner becoming more masculine. The jury found Palmer guilty only of assault and battery. At the sentencing, judge Barton admonished Palmer, telling his attorney “quite frankly, the defendant should kiss the ground you walk on,” before sentencing Palmer to two years in prison. Such a sentence for assault and battery with no priors sent a clear message that the judge believed Palmer to be guilty of at least manslaughter.
In the words of the headline to the Boston Phoenix article about the murder, “When is a murder not a murder? When the victim is a transsexual.”
— Nancy Nangeroni
Donathyn J. Rodgers
Location: Cleveland, Ohio
Cause of Death: Shot multiple times
Date of Death: November 15, 2005
Source: Lesbian-Gay Community Service Center of Greater Cleveland
Notes: Rodgers identified as a male to female transsexual, and had participated in events at the Lesbian-Gay Community Service Center of Greater Cleveland. Rodgers was also a sex worker, and was working near Max Hayes High in the early morning hours of November 15th. She was shot in the head by one of two assialiants, and when she ran, she was shot several additional times. Anyone with information is asked to call homicide detectives at (216) 623-5464.
Ronnie Paris, Jr.
Location: Tampa, Florida
Cause of Death: Beaten by his father, Ronnie Paris, Sr.
Date of Death: January 28, 2005
Source: PlanetOut, July 14, 2005
In Memory of Steven Wilson
I want to tell you about a 9-year-old boy named Steven Wilson.
Steven lived in Middletown, Delaware. Around the town, little Steven was known as a kid who liked to play with dolls. Other kids teased him and called him “fag.” Nobody knows if Steven was really gay. The point is, he was perceived as gay — at the age of 9. Evidently the local school district did little to discourage this kind of harassment. Evidently he had a special problem with the Harden boys across the street. One day in mid-October, the younger Harden boy was teasing him once again. Steven scuffled with him. When Mrs. Harden came out, he was winning, sitting on top of his tormentor and pummeling him and choking him.
A couple of days later, after Steven had been missing, his body was found in a muddy ditch a mile from his house. Steven had been brutally raped, beaten and drowned.
The town went into shock. Even more shocking was this...the perpetrator was not an adult pedophile, or a serial killer. Lamont Harden, the 15-year-old brother of the kid Steven had beaten up, confessed to the deed. Rape and murder was Harden’s alleged chosen course, to humble “the fag” who bested his little brother.
The shock in this murder is not merely that it happened — but that it got so little media coverage. Today Americans are so driven by the media that we have a national heart attack if a child falls down a well and is rescued after hours of suspense. Indeed, child welfare is an overriding emotional issue. We go into a collective frenzy every time a Susan Smith murders her children. National headlines proliterate when a tot is blown away in an L.A. drive-by. TV cameras show us the candles and flowers proliferating on a sidewalk where a young person died violently, as a mourning public pays tribute.
Yet the Steven Wilson murder has been swallowed up by a strange silence. Why? The reason is clear. Not enough people care. Not enough people are interested in justice for a boy who played with dolls.
Prosecutors are asking that the teenage murderer go to prison for life. But the cold workings of our judicial system will not bring “justice” to Steven Wilson’s spirit.
Real justice has to happen in people’s hearts. How can a nation do justice to a 9-year-old when so many people are abysmally indifferent to the fact of his violation and murder? All too many Americans feel in their hearts that it is somehow “okay” for a 9-year-old child who played with dolls to be sodomized and beaten to a pulp. The little bastard deserved it. Serves him right.
As long as some influential Americans insist that “justice” is a 3000-year-old list on some stone tablets, with homosexuality chiseled among the capital offenses, there can be no real justice for the Steven Wilsons. As long as some Americans insist that “homosexuality is evil,” those citizens will share a collective responsibility for the victims of gay-bashing. Dishonesty about “ what the Bible teaches” is a major cause of gay-bashing. Eight of the 10 Commandments call for the death penalty. Death by burning or stoning is mandated for dozens of other “offenses” — the list is quite long. To say that, these Bible laws are literal truth for America today is to ensure that violence against gay people of all ages will continue. Most especially, violence against gay youth will continue.
Today, because of this kind of teaching, many Americans remain obsessively hostile to homosexuality. Yet “Biblical crimes” of equal magnitude — like adultery, worshipping another God, not being virgin on your wedding night if you’re a girl, swearing, and working on Sunday — are no longer punished by death. If tomorrow every state made swearing or adultery a felony punishable by death, we’d have to kill half the country. Any American who insists that our moral law and penal law be based on the Old Testament is asking for a national blood bath.
Steven Wilson certainly perished in a blood bath of one.
Paradoxically, a person can be a good Christian without being a homophobe. Why? Because Jesus himself said nothing against homosexuality.
This country has a crying, screaming need to acknowledge its national accountability for the violence against gay children. There are too many parents, police, schools, clergy — who not only overlook but encourage the brutalizing of gay youth. Indeed, there are even parents who beat their own children when they learn they are lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender. One girl I know was assaulted by every member of her family before she was finally flung onto the street... at the age of 13. Even the media and the courts have offered little help.
Recently a Wisconsin federal judge dismissed a lawsuit that a gay student brought against his former school. From seventh to eleventh grade, James Nabozny suffered from verbal and physical brutalizing. Other students ambushed him in the hall or the bathroom. They beat him, punched and kicked him, even urinated on him. On one occasion, some boys pinned Nabozny to the floor and acted out sexual acts with him, while the rest of the class watched. Although his parents supported him, and complained to the principal, the school did nothing. “Boys will be boys,” was the callous comment of officials. Nabozny stood it for four years. But finally he dropped out of school, and attempted suicide. Eventually he was diagnosed with “post traumatic stress disorder.” PTSD used to be called “shell shock,” and it is typical of soldiers who have experienced the extremes of carnage in battle.
This case is now being appealed. It is but one of thousands, every year, that shows how low our society will sink to keep gay youth in the closet. The fact is, many gay kids are lucky to get out of school alive. Steven Wilson did not have that kind of luck.
My question is this: how many more Stevens will die before Americans see the need to protect gay youth?
Hopefully there are listeners out there who are feeling uneasy on hearing my story. Maybe they are suddenly remembering actions of their own, feeding the climate that killed an innocent 9-year-old. Maybe a parent, or school board member, or preacher. Maybe even another kid. Hopefully they have the courage and compassion to light a candle somewhere, and leave a few flowers for Steven.
Maybe they will love real justice enough to do something about the problem.
Maybe some other child, boy or girl, will not be assaulted or murdered because somebody, somewhere, had a change of heart.
Location: San Antonio, Texas
Cause of Death: Bludgeoned to death
Date of Death: March 29, 1991
Source: San Antonio Light, March 30, 1991
Notes: Victim was found partially burnt. (This is where I live, in San Antonio)
Gisberta Salce Junior
Gisberta was a homeless transgender woman who had been living in a shelter for many months in Porto, Portugal. Her death on February 22, 2006, was a violent one, lasting for several days as she was repeatedly beaten, sodomized with sticks, burned, kicked, stabbed, and stoned to death by a group of up to 14 teenagers. After she expired, they dumped her body into a ditch.
Melissa "Mo" Green
Twenty-two year old Melissa "Mo" Green was shot from behind, by a single bullet, in what seems like a planned killing, on March 21st, 2006, in Phoenix, Arizona. She bled to death from her injuries before paramedics arrived on the scene. An award is being offered for information about her death.
All together, there were 17 transgendered/transsexual victims from all over the world (who have been reported) as losing their lives THIS YEAR ALONE from the hands of others who do not understand us and would rather torture us and kill us because of ignorance and blindness to a world of diversity.
Sadly, there are many more stories just like this. They can be found at the following website, the Remembering Our Dead website:
Certain colors to wear for Transgender Day of Remembrance?
Transgender colors are White Pink and a pale Purple, or in remembrance of the deaths you can wear black and a veil
Celebrating Transgender day...?
Do you have any idea what the Transgender Day of Remembrance is? It's when we pause and remember the many transgender people from around the world who were killed in the last year simply because they were trans.
All the vigils I have been to included candles and a reading of the names.
It's a remembrance, not a celebration.