OSKALOOSA — Around 16 people gathered in the Oskaloosa bandstand on the evening of Monday, Nov. 20, the Transgender Day of Remembrance.
PFLAG members participated by walking to the square with signs and a flag from St. Paul Congregational United Church of Christ and into the bandstand. There, individuals spoke names of 23 transgender victims of violence in 2017. Robin White shared a quote following each name.
White shared a quote attributed to Raffi Freedman-Gurspan, director of external relation at the National Center for Transgender Equality, who had been speaking of the murder of Tee Tee Dangerfield, a transgender woman:
“Every death is a real person with their own story. Every year we are seeing more and more trans women, of color in particular, being killed by murder. We are very upset. It only reinforces the truth of what transgender people are telling us about the heinous violence and feelings of un-safety they face on a daily basis.”
Following the reading of names, a candlelight vigil was attempted, but the brisk winds of the night snuffed the flames. A modern means of illumination was used – cellphone flashlights.
After the event, White said she had some personal issues about the Transgender Day of Remembrance.
“I think that Gwendolyn Smith, in her statement to NBC gave kind of an indication of at least what she felt were the goals of the event,” she said, “and that is essentially to help educate others on transgender issues and not just to remember the people who were murdered but also to say what can we do to change things, to change the discussion, to have the conversation.”
White said there needs to be more conversation about transgender issues.
“And especially within the black community; because like I said, 20 of the 23 were transgender women of color,” she said. “And I personally feel too that if you look back at the history of the civil rights movements in the ‘60s that even Martin Luther King realized that they really couldn’t deal with more issues outside of race. I think they thought that eventually the LGBT issues would come up but they had to focus on just the racial civil rights issues of the day.”
In many respects, White said, she felt like another level of civil rights movement is happening.
“It needs to be the transgender women of color and the black community itself that needs to have the second civil rights movement to deal with these issues,” she said. “And hopefully next year we won’t have the number of issues that we’ve had this year.”
Herald Staff Writer Angie Holland can be reached at email@example.com and followed on Twitter @OskyAngie.