Every year, Nov. 20 marks the International Transgender Day of Remembrance. The solemn day highlights the lives the transgender community lost throughout the year.
A total of 369 transgender men and women were killed this year. That’s up more than 100 from last year, according to Jamie Lee Sprague-Ballou, founder of Las Vegas TransPride. Thirty of those deaths this year were in the United States.
Three-hundred-sixty-nine cards covered a wall at a vigil hosted by Sprague-Ballou and other members of the transgender community. The cards depicted the 369 faces, along with the 369 names of their trans brothers and sisters whose lives were cut short.
One woman took the stage to share the story of her friend Krista. Krista was the first trans woman murdered in the United States in 2018.
“This year: Jan.1, 2018, Krista became the first trans woman to be murdered in the U.S.,” Ballou shared. “This wonderful and talented woman’s life was brutally taken at age 42.”
“These are hate crimes,” stressed Sprague-Ballou. “We’re trying to bring the awareness of the hatred that exists against our community.”
However, Sprague-Ballou is thankful for strides made in Las Vegas. Just this year, the Clark County School District passed a policy allowing gender diverse students to use restrooms consistent with their gender identity and also protecting their corresponding pronouns.
“Here in Las Vegas we are privileged, but we need to remember other places that don’t have the privileges like we do,” explained Sprague-Ballou. “We would love there not to be a Transgender Day of Remembrance where we don’t have to have this day; where people would just know how to exist with us, and we’d not have that fear.”
To try to make that dream a reality, Sprague-Ballou, other members of the trans community, and allies read the new batch of names aloud every year.
Hundreds of people killed by other people in acts of hate.
“Fernando was a trans man who was killed while watching tv at his place,” read one person.
“The victim’s body was found by two walkers hanging from a tree,” read another person.
Every year, by sharing their stories, they work harder to make sure none of their trans brothers and sisters died in vain.
“We carry their names, and we carry their hurt with us,” said Sprague-Ballou. “I would love it if we can come one year and say, ‘We have no names to read this year because everyone is treating us like people.’ What kind of world would that be?”