By Billie K. Fidlin, Director of Outreach
November 20, 2013, was the Transgender Day of Remembrance. Several government and church communities hosted events to remember those that have lost their lives to violence and injustice because of their gender identity or gender expression. On November 19, 2013 an event sanctioned by the City of Phoenix was held at the Cesar Chavez Park in Phoenix, Arizona. The opening prayer was led by a Native American in their language. The prayer service was both painful and beautiful beyond measure.
Some of what was heard included that last year 238 transgender persons around the world died and most of those deaths came from extreme violence: stabbing, strangulation, shooting, hanging, stoning, throat slashing, and one decapitation. The majority of the victims of extreme violence presented as women. The ages of those that died ranged from 14 to 60 years, and the vast majority were either teens or in their early 30s. As members of the community read the 238 names, tears were shed in the candlelight. We learned that many had died without a name because not all were able to be identified by authorities.
Founded in 1998, this day is an opportunity to remember those who have lost their lives to violence and injustice because of their gender identity or gender expression. Earlier this year a reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) that included critical protections for transgender people and for the broader LGBTQ community was signed. The legislation removed barriers faced by LGBTQ victims of domestic violence and sexual assault, whose needs are often overlooked by law enforcement, prosecutors, courts, and victim service providers. It also included three provisions that would help LGBTQ victims of domestic violence and sexual assault access VAWA-funded services:
- A LGBTQ-focused purpose area to the STOP Violence Against Women Formula Grant program.
- The law amended the Act’s definition of “underserved population” to recognize that LGBTQ victims face barriers to service.
- The law protects LGBTQ victims from discrimination by prohibiting discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity in VAWA-funded programs or activities.
As you think about this day and consider your opinion on transgender people, call to mind your opinion on murder, oppression, and profiling. God calls us to love, not to hate, and does not condone murder. We must pray for all people, in all places, at all times.
There will be an event of celebration on March 30, 2014 at Cesar Chavez Park. Churches or individuals that would like to show support for the LGBTQ community can contact Rev. Stephen Govett from Asbury United Methodist Church by e-mail email@example.com to request additional information when it is available.