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Candlelight vigils mark Transgender Day of Remembrance
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Candlelight vigils mark Transgender Day of Remembrance

by James Whitely - SGN Contributing Writer

November 20 marked the Transgender Day of Remembrance. All around Seattle, local organizations put on various events to recognize the international day of observance that is in its 11th year.

The Q Center at the University of Washington, along with volunteers from the student group UW Students Organizing for LGBT Equality, hosted two events at the university, both of which were well-attended and well-organized.

In a rare instance of civil disobedience, the Q Center held its "die-in" on the steps of Red Square at UW, just after noon on the Day of Remembrance. Participants fell to the ground at the blow of a whistle as a Q Center activist shouted to the students passing by that they were walking over dead bodies.

About 25 activists laid on the ground as the Q center volunteer yelled out, "Stop! You're walking over dead bodies! These are people that have been murdered due to anti-Transgender hatred!" Held in between classes, foot traffic was extremely heavy; it is estimated that 500 people saw the 10-minute demonstration.

At the Q Center's evening candlelight vigil, which was held at the UW entrance stairs, I was handed a card which read, "An unidentified individual dressed in women's clothing was stabbed to death on October 25, 2009 in Baltimore, Maryland. Police found her lying unconscious and bleeding in the street. They took her to the hospital where she died a half-hour later."

Mine was one of many cards handed out at the vigil. Approximately 60 attendees read the cards, which included the story of every unidentified individual that had been killed due to anti-Transgender prejudice around the world in 2009.

Although not one person could keep their candle lit due to high wind, the vigil was an effective demonstration of community and humanity.

In addition to the Q Center's events, Entre Hermanos held a commemoration celebration. Seattle University law professor Dean Spade spoke on a panel at Seattle Central Community College about the impact of violence on the lives of Transgendered people living in the United States. Ravenna United Methodist Church screened the documentary Naming Jennifer and held its own candlelight vigil.

The Transgender Day of Remembrance was conceived of to memorialize those who are killed each year as a result of anti-Transgender hatred or prejudice. It is always held in November to honor Rita Hester, who was murdered on November 28, 1998. Hester's murder, like most anti-Transgender murder cases, has yet to be solved.

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