Gwen Smit: Thank you all for being here, and for honoring those we have lost
[12:10] Gwen Smit:
In November of 1998, Rita Hester -- a transwoman of color living in Massachusetts -- was brutally murdered. Her death, as well as the death of Channelle Pickett on November 20th, 1995, led to the creation of the Remembering Our Dead project and the first Transgender Day of Remembrance.
This was a project born of anger and sorrow, and remains a solemn occasion to honor those we have all lost at the hand of anti-transgender violence. I know I need not tell anyone here that our community -- our world -- is facing a lot of issues. Our larger LGBT community faces challenges due to recent legislation to yet again outlaw same gender marriage. My marriage of 16 years is directly affected by this ruling. In the face of heavy job losses around the nation and world, we still face an uphill battle getting employment protections passed at a Federal level -- with our own allies at the Human Rights Campaign working against us for their own gains in much the same fashion they have since the early 1990s. But while we can and should be concerned about all these things, and we should speak out about those things that infringe upon our rights, I wish to remind each of you of one thing: the most important and basic right we have is the right to exist.
This is a time to remember what others might like us to forget. This is a time to honor those we have lost -- and to hope that we will lose no more. A transgender person is estimated to have a 1 in 12 chance of being murdered, and ever other week another person dies to anti-transgender violence. 1 in 12! This year, we honor thirty people who were killed due to anti-transgender violence or prejudice. these were people like you and I, doing what they can to have a good life for themselves. They could have easily been us, our friends, or our family. Each one of them was killed.
You may not know Kellie Teleford, strangled to death the day after last year's Day of Remembrance by Shanniel Hyatt. You might not know Brian McGlothin, who was shot in the head with Antonio Williams automatic rifle -- simply because McGlothin liked to wear women's clothing. Like McGlothin, Lawrence King, a 15 year old, was also shot to death because he liked to wear clothing opposite his birth gender. Angie Zapata, who's skull was fractured by Alan Ray Andrade. Jaylynn Namauu. Ruby Molina, who was murdered in September somewhat upstream of the river that passes my own house. Duanna Johnson, shot and killed just a few days ago in Tennessee. Dilek Ince. Aimee Wilcoxson. Ebony Whitaker.
Today, there are people speaking out worldwide against anti transgender violence. There are events honoring those we've lost on every continent, in schools, colleges, and major cities across across the globe. Google has honored Transgender Day of Remembrance in their official weblog. Yes, there are even those of us here within Second Life.
I started this project a decade ago, and Ethan St. Pierre has taken on much of the duties to keep it going -- but it is up to all of us to end this. Mobilize, get active, and stay safe.