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Local Transgender Day of Remembrance vigil to return to indoor venue

Two rows of photos of people, clipped between two pieces of string.
Photos of some of the 48 transgender people killed in 2022. These photos were on display at last year's Transgender Day of Remembrance last year.

HANOVER TWP., LEHIGH COUNTY, Pa. — An annual event honoring those the transgender community has lost is coming next week.

The Lehigh Valley’s ninth annual Transgender Day of Remembrance vigil will take place at 7 p.m. Monday, Nov. 20, in the Metropolitan Community Church of the Lehigh Valley, 2354 Grove Road, Allentown.

It's the first year since the COVID-19 pandemic that the event will be held indoors.

Transgender Day of Remembrance is held every year to honor people victimized by anti-trans violence and educate people about the violence affecting the transgender community.

The day follows Transgender Awareness Week, which runs from Nov. 13-19 and is dedicated to increasing understanding of the trans community.

The local event also was organized by the Eastern PA Trans Equity Project.

“Since last year’s Transgender Day of Remembrance, we've had 46 people that we know about who are transgender and who have been murdered in the United States,” Corinne Goodwin, president of the nonprofit, said.

“Those are just the ones that we know about. There's likely many, many more.”

Goodwin said the vigil will feature a new activity called “Give Them Their Flowers,” in which people can write their hopes and fears for the community on flower-shaped pieces of paper.

“We're hoping to turn that into an art project,” Goodwin said.

Goodwin said speakers at the event also will talk about hope and resilience in the trans community. Refreshments will be available following the vigil.

Transgender Day of Remembrance history

Transgender Day of Remembrance, founded in 1999 by transgender advocate Gwendolyn Ann Smith, began as a vigil to honor the memory of Rita Hester, a trans woman stabbed to death in Boston the year prior.

Now, the day is observed across the world as violence against transgender people persists.

According to a study UCLA Law School’s Williams Institute released in 2021, trans people are four times as likely to be the victim of a violent crime as their cisgender counterparts.

Goodwin said transgender people also are more likely to face domestic abuse from partners or caregivers.

"When I was younger, you knew that stuff was there, but it wasn't in your face 24/7. And now it is. And that has created a significant level of trauma in our community.”
Corinne Goodwin, President of the Eastern PA Trans Equity Project

The suicide rate also is higher among transgender people. Goodwin said she thinks that's because of the trauma trans people face when they are not accepted by their community.

That trauma has become harder to ignore with social media and news coverage of anti-trans rhetoric and laws, Goodwin said.

"When I was younger, you knew that stuff was there, but it wasn't in your face 24/7,” Goodwin said. “And now it is. And that has created a significant level of trauma in our community.”

Goodwin said the event is important because it lets transgender people and allies come together as a community and build awareness for the issue.

“Hopefully what ends up happening as we continue to hold these types of events is that people in leadership positions in the Lehigh Valley and around the country begin to see the results of transphobia and harm that they are doing to the LGBTQ, and in particular, transgender community,” Goodwin said.