Transgender Day Of Remembrance

Today is the annual observance of Transgender Day of Remembrance (TDoR), which has been observed since 1998. Dana Beyer wrote the following piece specifically about the progress that has been made in the past decade, but as can be seen from the murder of Zella Ziona just last month right here in Montgomery County, we still have a long way to go - politically, legislatively and culturally. And that’s before we get to the debacle in Houston, which we’ll leave for another day.

This week is dedicated to the transgender community’s remembering its dead, and celebrating its life and the growing cultural awareness. The week here in Maryland has been bookended by the Day of Remembrance ceremony at the Rockville United Church on Saturday, November 14th, and the traditional International Trans Day of Remembrance events this Friday, November 20th, with events in Baltimore and downtown DC.

This year we gathered to remember, with her family, Zella Ziona, the first trans woman murdered in Montgomery County. Zella was one of twenty-plus African-American trans women killed this year, just as similar numbers have been killed each year for the preceding two decades. We will not stop remembering the dead, including those who ended their own lives, but we can work towards preventing the list from getting longer.

And we are doing that. Zella’s mother and sister were present and spoke to the crowd, directly thanking Montgomery County Police Chief Tom Manger and his deputies for apprehending the alleged killer within 24 hours. The state’s attorney, John McCarthy, charged him hours later. Such an effective, rapid response is basically unheard of anywhere else in the country, but our community’s public safety team pulled it off.

Unfortunately, there were trans activists who harassed the officers as they were trying to do their job. Similarly, the keynote address painted a picture of Montgomery County and Maryland circa 2004, failing to take note of the passage of anti-discrimination laws in this county and others, and the state as a whole, as well as federal employment coverage under Title VII. This is a time when we mourn the victims, but should not be one where we choose to end up re-victimizing ourselves by choice.

We have laws for which the community fought, and those laws have begun to be implemented. Trans persons need to know their rights, so they can move forward with their lives with increasing self-confidence, rather than looking over their shoulder expecting the worst. Ultimately it comes down to taking care of ourselves, and using the tools available.

May we all go forward to the new year in peace and prosperity.


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