By Audrey Lampert
The First Congregational Church of Granby will host a community event to commemorate the Transgender Day of Remembrance on Nov. 20, at 6 p.m., to be followed immediately by a free dinner and informal Q and A session.
The Transgender Day of Remembrance is an annual event that seeks to memorialize those who were killed due to anti-transgender hatred or prejudice in the prior year. The first event was held in the spring of 1999 in San Francisco as a memorial service to honor Rita Hester, whose murder on Nov. 28, 1998, kicked off the “Remembering Our Dead” web project. Rita Hester’s murder, like most anti-transgender murder cases, has yet to be solved.
The day of remembrance serves several purposes. It raises public awareness of hate crimes against transgender people, and it publicly mourns and honors the lives of those who might otherwise be forgotten.
According to the National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs and the National Advocacy for Local LGBTQH Communities, the recent homicide of Keisha Jenkins of Philadelphia was the twenty-first reported homicide of a transgender/gender nonconforming person that the organization has responded to in 2015, 18 of whom were people of color.
The term transgender, which describes about 700,000 Americans, has been around for more than 39 years, but a large portion of the population still can’t define it. The confusion around this topic is why the program for the evening will include two parts. First, a memorial service in the sanctuary will take place with comments from the Reverend Paula Degree, who will deliver an address entitled, Transgender 101. Immediately following the service will be a free dinner open to all, with an informal Q & A session.
The congregation of First Church has decided that over the course of the fall and winter months it will explore the topic of “encountering others” in a broad sense. In other words; how do we relate to those who are not like us? Do we see their struggles? Do we play a role in their lives? Can we be silent in the face of injustice and harm? This event will address in a very candid way the struggles of the transgender community, but it will also compassionately address the struggles people face in trying to understand perspectives that might be completely foreign to them, or where they may be uncomfortable asking for help in understanding.