Local and federal officials are recognizing the 15th annual Transgender Day of Remembrance Wednesday (November 20.)
The day, founded by Bay Area Reporter columnist Gwen Smith, honors those who have been lost due to anti-transgender violence and prejudice.
One recent incident on many people’s minds is the burning earlier this month of agender high school student Luke Sasha Fleischman, 18, of Oakland, who was badly burned by another teen while riding a bus and remains hospitalized. A fundraising site has been established to help pay Fleischman’s medical bills and possibly aid gender idenity equality work.
San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee said in a statement, “While much progress has been made in the last decade to advance transgender rights, anti-transgender violence sadly remains. A greater awareness is needed to end the bullying, harassment, discrimination and violence faced by the transgender community around the world.”
For years, San Francisco officials have worked to provide protections for transgender people in education, healthcare, and other areas, Lee noted.
“We remind all San Franciscans that transgender people are our family, our colleagues and our friends,” he said. “We recommit ourselves to ensure that no one is subjected to violence, discrimination or hatred simply because of one’s gender identity. No one should be denied the basic rights that ensure their safety in our city.”
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said in a statement, “The sad truth is that in too many places, including the United States, transgender persons continue to face violence and discrimination on a daily basis.”
That’s why officials “are engaging diplomatically to address the specific challenges faced by transgender persons,” said Kerry. “And that’s why we will continue to urge other governments to protect all of their citizens regardless of their gender identity.”
He said the Global Equality Fund is being used to increase support to organizations that are fighting bias-motivated violence targeting transgender people.
“The rights of gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender persons are not special or separate or different,” said Kerry. “They are basic human rights. And human rights are universal, not negotiable.”
In San Francisco, the annual Day of Remembrance event will take place from 6 to 9 p.m. in the rainbow room at the LGBT Community Center, 1800 Market Street.
In addition to those lost to violence, several other deceased trans leaders will be mourned, including Jazzie Collins, a longtime activist, and artist Christopher Lee.
In Oakland, the annual commemoration, sponsored by Tri-City Health Center’s TransVision program, will be held on the third floor of City Hall, 1 Frank Ogawa Plaza. The venue is accessible by the 12th Street BART station. The event will start at 5:15 p.m. and end by 6:30.
Among those remembered will be Brandy Martell, the 37-year-old transgender woman who was fatally shot in downtown Oakland in 2012. Oakland police say the investigation into her death remains active. Anyone with information is encouraged to contact the Oakland Police Department Homicide Division at (510) 238-3821 or call Crime Stoppers at (510) 777-8572.
In Berkeley, a Transgender Day of Remembrance event will take place from 7 to 9 p.m. in the chapel on the Pacific School of Religion campus, 1798 Scenic Avenue.