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UPDATE: Trans Day of Remembrance on Sunday


At Sunday's Transgender Day of Remembrance vigil, local law enforcement agencies showed unexpected support, sending a police officer and sheriff’s deputy to address attendees. Event organizer Dana Stevens also read a letter from Mayor John Suthers, who wasn’t there in the flesh, but nonetheless declared that the group’s dedication to raising awareness should be commended. It was the first time a sitting Springs Mayor recognized the day.

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This Sunday is Transgender Day of Remembrance across the nation, a designated time to memorialize lives lost to violence against people targeted for their gender or sexual identity. Here in Colorado Springs, a candlelight vigil will be held at 6pm at the All Souls Unitarian Universalist Church downtown, sponsored by Peak Area Gender Expressions — a local group that provides resources and support to transgender people, their friends and family in a region once known as a bastion of intolerance.

This annual event is held in November to honor the life of Rita Hester, a black trans woman, who's stabbing murder in 1998 sparked the "Remembering Our Dead" online project and, subsequently, these days of remembrance. They're a time to raise awareness about the disproportionate rates of violence affecting the LGBTQ community and advocate for strengthening human rights for everyone — but especially the most vulnerable.

2016 has been the deadliest year for transgender people on record, according to GLAAD which found 26 (reported) murders in the first 11 months of the year. The majority are trans women of color. The FBI didn't start tracking crimes against gender non-conforming people until 2014, but has since reported that LGBTQ people are the most targeted group in the country.

Fears are high amongst the trans community since the election of Donald Trump and, especially, his running mate Mike Pence, the religious liberty-loving former governor of Indiana who's notorious for his crusades against same-sex marriage and for gay conversion therapy. Instances of hate speech have been reported around the country, including in Denver where a trans woman's car was vandalized with swastikas and tags like "die he she" and "tranny." Vandalism in a similar vein was also reported at Colorado College.

The Trans Day of Remembrance website keeps a list of the names and identities of those who've fallen victim. That can be found here.

Keynote speaker at Sunday's vigil is Dr. Datti Kapella — a trans woman, veteran of the U.S. military and advocate for the LGBTQ community.

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