Community members gathered in Corona Plaza on Saturday, Nov. 20, to commemorate the lives of transgender and nonbinary people that have been lost due to violence.
Trans Day of Remembrance is an international day to honor lives of those who have passed away and to highlight the resiliency of the transgender community in the face of constant hate violence while demanding an end to discrimination and criminalization. This year alone marks the most recorded deaths of transgender people, as at least 46 transgender and nonbinary people have reportedly lost their lives as a result of violence and transphobia.
But many attacks and deaths go unreported due to misgendering by authorities, with the majority of cases involving Black and Latinx transgender women.
“Today we mourn all of the lives of the people that we lost, but tomorrow we get up and we fight like hell for those who are still here with us living,” said Elisa Crespo, executive director New Pride Agenda.
The candlelight vigil, organized by Make the Road New York, featured several community leaders who called for the end to the violence against transgender, gender non-conforming, gender expansive, intersex and queer (TGNICQ) people of color who disproportionately face hate violence and discrimination.
Make the Road NY reports 34 cases of violence against TGNICQ Queens residents in the last four years.
Brianna Titone, a member of the Colorado House of Representatives, attended the vigil, and spoke about the need to protect trans lives even when there are laws protecting them, like in New York and Colorado.
“But just having laws still does not protect us. Those laws are only as the paper they’re printed on and the people who actually follow them,” Titone said. “We need to band together. These events tonight, as somber as they are, are so important for us to stay unified as a community and to be one together to fight back.”
A banner that read “Nos queremos vivas, no mas muertes trans” (“We want us alive, no more trans deaths”) was hung from the 7 train line during the vigil to highlight the need for trans people to live freely and with dignity.
The vigil included a moment of silence to honor the lives of those who have lost theirs throughout the years, as well as a performance by trans activist Geraldine Monroy Mercado.
Jackson Heights elected officials also joined the vigil, including Assemblywoman Jessica González-Rojas and Councilman-elect Shekar Krishnan.
“It is tragic that we’re here every year to commemorate the lives that have been lost, lost in a system of violence and trauma. But I commit, and I fight for [each one of you that are here every single day],” González-Rojas said. “I’m so proud this year to have voted to repeal the Walking While Trans bill in the New York State Assembly, and I’m so honored to have carried trans-affirming legislation, one bill which was just signed into law this week. I’m also honored to carry a bill that decriminalizes massage workers, which is one more step to fully decriminalizing sex work here in New York state.”
Additional reporting by Adrian Childress.