Gov. Terry McAuliffe honors Transgender Day of Remembrance for the first time in RVA event
Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe offered a proclamation honoring November 20th as the Virginia Transgender Day of Remembrance (TDoR) during tonight’s Richmond event – a first for his administration.
The ceremony, which has been held annually around the world since 1998, honors the murder of transgender people who were victims of transphobic violence.
Richmond Mayor Dwight Jones also offered a proclamation from the city, though neither Jones or McAuliffe were in attendance tonight. But the community packed the Diversity Richmond event hall to show support for those lost.
Members of RVA transgender community holding McAuliffe and Jones’ proclamations
The event opened with a personal expression of condolences from TDoR organizer Bethany Pahl to the family of Norwood, a trans woman who was found murdered in Richmond’s Southside earlier this month.
Norwood’s murder, like many others, remains unsolved, but Richmond Police chief Alfred Durham was in attendance tonight.
“It’s important to come out and pay respect to those who have bene harmed or lost their lives because of who they are,” Durham, dressed in his full uniform, said. “As we look at what’s going on across the country, we want to set the example here in Richmond.”
Norwood’s murder was particularly complicated for some in the LGBTQ community who were unhappy with RPD’s use of Norwood’s birth name as well as describing her as “a man in a dress” in their initial report on the murder.
Chief Durham (center) flanked by members of RVA’s transgender community
“It hit us, it hit us hard. We have to be sensitive to the family and the LGBT community. We want to sit down and have that conversation,” Durham said. GayRVA worked with RPD’s LGBT Liaison and members of the community to try and confirm details like Noony’s name and pronouns ahead of the release but the family continues to refer to her as her son.
“If we get it wrong, I want to apologize. But how do we move forward, how do we get it right, how do we work with the family as well.”
Talks of Diversity Richmond holding a meeting between Durham and the LGBTQ community are in the works with details to be released soon.
Long-time RVA TDoR organizer Kenneth Decker offered the history of the Richmond TDoR event as well as the practice on the national level.
Decker said many years ago he lost a lover to anti-LGBTQ violence and when he learned about TDoR, which started with the murder of Rita Hester, a San Fransisco trans woman who was killed in 1998.
Decker, a Connecticut transplant, spent his early days in RVA meeting folks and getting a new event started in the city.
Since then, he and other volunteers have worked to produce the ceremony at venues around the city – from churches to the Byrd Theatre. Tonight’s event returned to Diversity Richmond for the second time in a row.
The most powerful part of the ceremony involves lighting a candle for each of the people killed, about 60 reported, around the world. The names are available to the public via the Remembering Our Dead website.
As each person’s name is read, sometimes with a short description, a candle is blown out and a bell is rung.
Speakers usually offer messages of hope to counter the somber event. Among the speakers tonights event was Andrew Wilson, a 19-year-old trans man who made headlines earlier this year when he spoke out against a proposed law that would have forced trans students and citizens to use bathrooms aligned with their birth gender, not their gender identity.
The bill was defeated after concerns of the Supreme Court’s ruling in the future in relation to Gloucester County student Gavin Grimm, but Wilson and others counted it as a win for the future of transgender rights.
Andrew Wilson speaking at RVA TDoR 2016
“We all defeated that bill by coming to gather and encouraging each other,” Wilson said. “That experience was incredibly liberating for me… I’m looking around this room and I see so many beautiful people with so much potential. Your very existence inspires me. And I promise you it inspires others who do not have a voice here tonight. So please, keep being you.”
The annual Richmond Transgender Day of Remembrance event happens every year on Nov. 20th. Check out some photos from the event below:
April 18th is National Transgender HIV Testing Day, so group up with some folks you care about and check out T-Gurlz Rock RVA, an event at Diversity Richmond Tuesday evening. The inaugural National Transgender HIV Testing Day (NTHTD) was held last April 18th in 2016. “NTHTD is a day to recognize the importance of routine HIV [...]April 17, 2017
- Prev Tickets on sale NOW for Elf, Beautiful, Kinky Boots and more at Altria theatre
- Next Netflix drops new trailer for ‘Barry’ – the story of Obama’s definitive college year
- Back to top
- Brian Burns returns with new book detailing RVA’s history of income inequality, homosexuality and Maymont owner’s use of convict labor
- Proud lesbian, cult survivor and nurse – Chelsea Savage looks to capture Virginia House seat
- Alabama one step closer to matching Virginia with anti-LGBTQ adoption legislation
- GAYCATION returns with ‘United We Stand’ special focusing on LGBTQ life in Trump’s America
- Virginia trans teen is youngest of Time Magazine’s ‘Most Influential People’ for 2017