This article has been updated to include Daniel Aston, 28, who was one of five victims killed in a mass shooting at an LGBTQ bar in Colorado Springs on November 19.
November 20 marks the 23rd Transgender Day of Remembrance, a day honoring transgender and gender non-conforming people who have been killed in acts of violence. The occasion began in 1999 to commemorate the murder of transgender woman Rita Hester in Allston, Massachusetts.
Although 23 years have passed since the first recognition, violence against transgender people remains a prevalent problem in the US, rooted in decades-old stigma and discrimination.
“Trans remembrance is a day that we as a nation choose to celebrate and perhaps commemorate and remember the people who have fallen and been killed,” Grace Detrevarah, an LGBTQ activisthe told In The Know. “I get very, very angry when someone… tries to water it down to make it bearable to read and say things like, ‘They died of violence.’ No, call it what it really has been. It’s still murder.”
Grace Detrevarah is an LGBTQ liaison and health facilitator at the Osborne Association, a social justice group that provides services to families and communities affected by the criminal justice system. Detrevarah went through the Osborne Association after being jailed and credits the organization for saving her life.
Detrevarah ran away from home to New York City in 1983, when he was 19 years old. She was taken in by sex workers, drag queens, and trans women who protected her and taught her how to survive.
“You have to always remember that this was the moment… where someone [transgender] He was considered mentally ill, considered sick, even by those who today call themselves our allies,” Detrevarah explained. “Today I see myself as a descendant of Marsha.”
Detrevarah is referring to Marsha P. Johnson, a gay liberation activist credited with being one of the prominent figures in the 1969 Stonewall uprising, which occurred 14 years before Detrevarah came to New York, but who, without However, it had a tremendous impact on how Detrevarah carries herself, even today.
“You would see Marsha everywhere. You would see her in Midtown Manhattan, here in Lower Manhattan or Uptown,” Detrevarah described. “She was just a walking truth teller.”
Although LGBTQ rights and acceptance have come a long way since Detrevarah was growing up, Detrevarah still thinks that if Johnson had been walking around today with the same tenacity and vocalism she had in the 1960s and ’70s, she would still be too much for the general public.
“We wouldn’t congratulate her. We would not celebrate her like we do now,” she said. “If she lived today, she would continue to establish [new] standards of what freedom is like.
That’s why Detrevarah says she’s a descendant of Johnson, because there’s still a fight for freedom, acceptance and protection, and not just on November 20 of every year.
“Understand that there has always been some type of violence when it comes to the LGBTQIA community,” he said. “When it comes to non-conforming Black, Latino and trans people, in the last eight years there has been this trend of murdering [them].”
Only in 2022, 33 transgender and gender non-conforming people have been killed in the US in 2021, 50 deaths were recorded. the human rights campaign (HRC), which released the statistics, said 32 deaths are most likely less than reality because deaths of trans people often go unreported or the victims are reported as the wrong gender.
Over the past decade, the HRC found that in more than 40% of recorded cases where a trans or non-conforming person was murdered, “no arrest has been made and the killer remains unknown or an identified suspect is still at large” .
“May that in the month of November we not only dedicate a week, a moment, a second to remember the fallen and slain, that we also remember the other 11 months that there are others that need to be remembered throughout the year,” Detrevarah said.
“Every trans story does not equal misery,” he continued. “We understand the word resilience.”
In memoriam: The 33 reported transgender and gender nonconforming victims who were murdered in 2022
Amariey Lei, 20, of Wilkinsburg, Pennsylvania.
Duval Princess, 24, of Jacksonville, Fla.
Crypress Ramos, 21, of Lubbock, Texas
Naomie Skinner, 25, of Highland Park, Mich.
Matthew Angelo Spampinato, 21, of New Castle, Delaware.
Paloma Vazquez, 29, of Houston
Tatiana Labelle, 33, of Chicago
Kathryn “Katie” Newhouse, 19, of Canton, Georgia.
Kenyatta “Kesha” Webster, 24, of Jackson, Miss.
Miia Love Parker, 25, of Chester, Pennsylvania.
Ariyanna Mitchell, 17, of Hampton, Va.
Fern Feather, 29, of Morristown, Vermont.
Ray Muscat, 24, of Independence Township, Michigan.
Nedra Sequence Morris, 50, of Opalocka, Florida.
Chanelika Y’Ella Dior Hemingway, 30, of Guilderland, NY
Sasha Mason, 45, of Zebulon, North Carolina
Brazil Johnson, 28, of Milwaukee
Shawmayne Giselle Marie, 27, of Gulfport, Miss.
Kitty Monroe, age unknown, from Cordova, Tennessee.
Martasia Richmond, 30, of Chicago
Keshia Chanel Geter, 26, of Augusta, Georgia.
Cherry Bush, 48, of Los Angeles
Marisela Castro, 39, of Houston
Hayden Davis, 28, of Detroit
Candy Reed, 29, of Kansas City, Missouri.
Aaron Lynch, 26, of McLean, Va.
Maddie Hofmann, 47, of Malvern, Pennsylvania.
Dede Ricks, 33, of Detroit
Mya Allen, 35, of Milwaukee
Acey Morrison, 30, of Rapid City, SD
Semaj Billingslea, 33, of Jacksonville, Fla.
Tiffany Banks, 25, of Miami, Florida.
Daniel Aston, 28, of Colorado Springs, Colorado.
More from In The Know: