On November 17, about 100 people gathered at Freedom Plaza to observe Transgender Day of Remembrance, an event organized by D.C. Safe Haven, a trans-led service organization. The rally honored transgender individuals who were murdered over the past year, including Jasmine “Star” Parker, Skylar Harrison Reeves, and A’Nee Roberson. Activists and allies paid tribute with candles and memorials, with photos of the deceased displayed prominently.
Symbolic Representation of Loss
Iya Dammons, the executive director of D.C. Safe Haven, wore a dress adorned with photos of the deceased, symbolizing the loss within the transgender community. Trans activist Hope Giselle emphasized the importance of remembering these individuals, stating, “They were stolen from their families both chosen and blood.”
Addressing Broader Issues
The speakers at the rally discussed hate violence and broader systemic issues affecting the transgender community, including healthcare access, government programs, and the opioid crisis. The rally highlighted the disproportionate impact of homelessness, unemployment, and substance abuse on transgender individuals in D.C.
Demand for Action and Support
Following the vigil, activists moved to the D.C. city government’s John A. Wilson Building, demanding increased funding for services targeting the trans community’s needs. Dammons and other speakers voiced frustrations over the loss of services and the alarming rate at which transgender individuals are dying, particularly due to opioid overdoses.
A List of Demands
D.C. Safe Haven’s demands included increased funding for city services, restoration of lost services, affordable housing, addressing the opioid crisis, employment opportunities, legal protections, educational and training opportunities, community engagement, mental health services, inclusive healthcare services, and the holding of well-being hearings.
A Call for Change Beyond Niceties
Giselle’s powerful speech on the steps of the Wilson Building called for an end to superficial niceties, highlighting the dire situation for many in the transgender community. She stressed that being “nice” has led to neglect and mistreatment, emphasizing the urgency for substantial and meaningful action to support and protect transgender individuals.