People in the transgender community and transgender allies came together on Tuesday night in Phoenix to honor all transgender community members that were murdered in the previous year.
The Transgender Day of Remembrance is annually held on November 20. The day is acknowledged nationally to memorialize those who have passed away as a result of violent transphobia and hate crimes. The event drew attention to the continued violence endured by the transgender community.
A candlelight vigil was held on the Senate lawn in front of the Capitol building. People of all ages and preferred genders showed their support. The event also included art from the youth community, speakers, artists and performances.
The event was hosted by Trans Spectrum of Arizona, who provides service, support and social outlets for transgender and gender non-conforming individuals and their allies. The group hosts the event every year and is open to anyone
According to TSAZ, there were 369 reported murders of trans and gender-diverse people between October 1, 2017, and September 30, 2018.
The president of TSAZ, Kendra Tonan-lizzarago, helped set up the event and greeted guests.
“We need to remember the people that were lost,” said Tonan, “What we were able to do in the last four years for this community is amazing.”
Speakers at the event shared their personal stories about their affiliations with the transgender community. Eion Cashman said that the transgender community is not recognized in a positive light for their differences from the rest of society.
Cashman explained how people in the transgender community should not have to feel like victims anymore.
“We live in a time that many people are calling the tipping point,” said Cashman, “We are changing gender from a life sentence at birth to a form of expression and identity.”
Dr. Neal A. Lester, a foundation professor of English and the founding director of Project Humanities at Arizona State University, attended the event as an ally. He wishes to educate people about the hate crime that the transgender community receives.
Lester has noticed that some of his transgender students falling victim to bullying on campus. He has denied the danger allegations of neutral bathrooms.
“There is absolutely no evidence whatsoever to support that,” Lester said, “I intend to use my Project Humanities platform and my experience as a professor to bring people together to talk, listen and connect. I also intend to educate and expel myths about the transgender community.”
The candles were passed out to the attendees after the speeches. Speakers at the event read off the names of the 369 victims while people mourned the life of their community.
The night ended by a live performance by Kaydee Cage. Her original single, Rising Sun shares a story about her personal transition and the difficulties she has faced in society.
“The rising sun is a metaphor for encouraging hope,” Cage said, “and I believe that our community needs that type of inspiration for everything that is happening now.”