First Christian Church in St. Joseph, an open and affirming congregation, observed its first annual Transgender Day of Remembrance vigil on Sunday November 20. This vigil is held worldwide each November to honor the memory of transgender individuals who died in the past year due to violence. The first TDOR was held in 1999 to bring attention to the murder of Rita Hester, a transgender woman whose murder has yet to be solved. As part of the vigil at First Christian, a transgender member of the congregation shared her witness of her struggle, the violence she has encountered, and her gratitude in finding a church that welcomes and loves her. Participants then listened as the names of the transgender individuals who were murdered in the past year worldwide were read. This list, of course, did not include all incidents of anti-transgender violence as many crimes go unreported, nor does it mention trans individuals who committed suicide due to societal abuse and pressures. The event concluded as each participant from the church and community was invited to come forward to light a candle in memory of those lost and in solidarity as advocates for transgender persons who continue the struggle for acceptance.
Story and photo courtesy of pastor Brian Kirk.