Friday, November 20th, marked the second year the Long Beach community gathered to commemorate the lives lost due to anti-transgender violence. The day of remembrance became emotional as members of the LGBTQ center read the names of all the known transgender people murdered in 2015 along with the locations and crimes. Listening to the horrific murders read out loud reminded us that even though transgenderism is receiving more mainstream representation and coverage, the safety and well-being of these people are still a great concern. Each member of the audience received a candle to light for those who have been murdered.
The event, co-sponsored by First District Councilwoman Lena Gonzalez and The Human Rights Campaign, saw a large turnout of supporters and allies. In attendance was actress and producer Jazzmun Nichcala Crayton and boxer Patricio Manuel.
Crayton spoke of her difficulties and how she’s learned to turn the other cheek and keep fighting for what is right. She expressed great emotion for the thousands of transgender youth that travel to Los Angeles looking for a more accepting community, only to be faced with discrimination, violence, and homelessness. She demanded that the community needs to come together to protect some of their most vulnerable members. Equal access to healthcare, employment, and housing is difficult for someone who is transgender, especially those of color. Crayton emphasized that transgender women of color are seeing some of the highest rates of sexual assault and violence in the United States.
Patricio Manuel shared his struggle of transitioning from a black woman to a man and how racism had become so prevalent in his life. Growing up in a white household, Manuel said “I felt as if I slipped through the cracks.” Slowly, as he medically transitioned into a man, Manuel was faced with the hostility many young black men face in this country today. Manuel, who calls Long Beach his home, is a five-time national boxing champion and one of the only openly transgender athletes in the United States. He felt it was necessary to read the statistics of the violence that transgender people face as he believes many people have a hard time being empathic and respond better to numbers. Manuel continued on to express his admiration for the city, saying he has never seen a community love and support each other like Long Beach does.
Love and support throughout Long Beach was a common theme across all of the speeches that evening. Councilwoman Gonzalez said Long Beach has some of the best supporters a city could offer in all of Los Angeles County. “I’m glad that we can yet again dedicate this special day to remember transgender individuals in our city and beyond,” she said. Gonzalez also spoke of the future and how the city will continue to lead in LGBT equality with plans for gender neutral bathrooms in the new civic center.
Transgender day of remembrance first began in 1999 and continues to be an annual event. The remembrance was an eye opening reminder that trans issues continue to affect all demographics regardless of age, race, or religion.