Transgender Day of Remembrance Vigil Held in Duluth

Annual vigil memorializes transgender lives lost to murder and suicide

DULUTH, Minn. – So far this year in the U.S., at least twenty-two transgender or non-conforming people have been fatally shot or killed by other means, according to the Human Rights Campaign.

Transgender Day of Remembrance is held on November 20th every year. It memorializes transgender lives lost to murder and suicide and aims to bring attention to how common that violence has become.

“I’ve had friends die, I’ve had people I consider close friends and even family die, be hospitalized to to violence and I don’t like seeing that happen and I honestly don’t want violence happening to anybody, let alone my friends,” said Morgan Richardson who attended the Duluth vigil.

The annual event on the corner of Lake Avenue and Superior Street brings attention to an issue many in the Twin Ports may not be aware of.

“Suicide rates are very high for transgender people and hate crimes perpetrated against LGBTQ people in general and transgender people in particular are extremely high,” said Kathy Hermes of Lutheran Social Services.

Demonstrators read the names of every transgender life lost in the past year. They also make encouraging signs and hold them up proudly, working to build community support.

“We’ve seen a change in the reactions of people who drive by,” said Hermes. “There’s a clear increase in positive response to our presence and many fewer incidents of people expressing themselves in negative ways toward us.”

Organizers say it’s easy to help their cause. Friends and family are encouraged to always use names and pronouns of each person’s choosing, and businesses are encouraged to hire more trans-identified people.

“We have many normal and beautiful transgender colleagues, friends, family members, co-workers who deserve full lives and part of that is simply acknowledging their existence,” said Hermes.

It’s not known how many crimes against transgender people are directly because of biases against them. However, their status is believed to put them at risk in other ways, including making it tough for them to access healthcare when they need it.

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