Transgender community comes together in Des Moines for Transgender Day of Remembrance

Wednesday, November 20, marks Transgender Day of Remembrance, a day to remember transgender and gender non-comforming individuals who have been killed as a result of transphobia, or the fear of transgender people. Gwendolyn Ann Smith, a transgender graphic designer, founded this national day of awareness in 1998. Since its inception, Transgender Day of Remembrance has been held annually on November 20 and slowly evolved into a worldwide phenomenon, recognized in over 185 American cities and more than 20 countries.

This year in Des Moines, the transgender community and its allies will come together to recognize those we have lost in the past year. One Iowa, the state’s leading transgender, lesbian, gay and bisexual organization, and community organizer Sophia Stone, who leads the Des Moines transgender support group called Transformations, will hold a vigil on the west steps of the Capitol building. The names of transgender people who have lost their lives in the past year will be read aloud. Brief remarks will also be made by community members.

What: Transgender Day of Remembrance
When: Wednesday, November 20, 5:30 – 6:30 pm
Where: West steps of the Capitol building

“We must remember those we’ve lost,” Stone said. “The purpose of Transgender Day of Remembrance is to make change for a better tomorrow. I want my transgender sisters and brothers to know they aren’t alone. Not only are there transgender people all over the world — in small towns and big cities alike — but we also have countless allies in our friends, neighbors and co-workers. While we still have many uphill battles to go, we are not fighting them alone.

“Every year, we come together as a community and speak out against these senseless acts of violence,” Stone continued. “We know we have the ability to make change. We hope our efforts will gain much-needed visibility in the state of Iowa. If we can save even one life, then our efforts have been successful.”

“Transphobia is very real,” One Iowa Executive Director Donna Red Wing added. “People are harassed and hurt and killed just because of who they are. We must expand transgender awareness in Iowa and throughout the country if we want the violence to stop. It is time for transphobia and homophobia to end, and that can only happen through education, understanding, activism and mobilization. Tonight we remember the dead. Tomorrow we work for the living.”