Every year on Nov. 20, we gather to honor and remember those lost to hate crimes due to their gender identity at the annual Transgender Day of Remembrance.
In 2010, when the name Roy Jones was read, and it was announced that he was only 17 months old, the tears started pouring down my face uncontrollably. Through my tears I saw the look of shock and horror on people’s faces.
Roy was killed by his mother’s boyfriend for acting too much like a girl. I don’t know about you, but when I was 17 months old, I was acting like a 17-month-old … playing with toys and learning to talk.
Every year, the list grows longer, and the victims get younger. The Transgender Day of Remembrance was started in 1998 by Gwendolyn Smith to pay tribute to Rita Hester, a transwoman killed in Massachusetts, and has become a worldwide event.
This year, a new idea came to light and it had to become a reality. Members of the local Transgender Day of Remembrance planning committee, including Jess Colyer and Traci O'Brien, went to the Hillcrest Business Association meeting asking for the transgender flag to be flown at half staff in honor of all transgender murder victims.
Interestingly enough, I was not shocked to realize that some of the board members, even those belonging to the LGBT family, didn’t know that the trans community had their own flag or what it looked like. So, with that, the education began about the Transgender Day of Remembrance, and the advocating that needs to take place so people realize how many people are murdered simply for being true to themselves.
On Sept. 11, 2012, the Hillcrest Business Association unanimously voted to let the transgender flag fly at half staff in honor of these victims … and they are just that … victims. So, on Nov. 20, if you’re in Hillcrest and see the pink, white and blue flag flying, remember it flies with two purposes. It validates the life and mourns the death of innocent people who were simply trying to be who they were born to be. It also signifies that transgender people are human beings, and deserved to be honored as such.
Please keep your eyes and ears open for information about the flag ceremony and program on Nov. 20, and we hope you will march with us that day in solidarity, honor and memory of those we’ve lost.
Prince Royale of the Imperial Court de San Diego
Transgender Day of Remembrance planning committee
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