*Trigger warning: murder, grief, loss, transphobia
Fierce love means feeling our grief while staying big, staying whole. Let us mourn the dead, keen or wail, sit in silence or belt it out in song, however grief works for you. Let us feel our hearts break and grow, and grasp the sadness. Let us fill our bodies to their very edges while we mourn.
- Eli Clare, trans disabled activist, poet, and author, Trans Day of Remembrance Speech 2016
Rita Hester was a 34-year-old Black trans woman performer who loved rock music and singing her heart out to Whitney Houston and playing racquetball with friends. On November 28, 1998, Rita was murdered in her Parkville, Boston apartment. She was stabbed twenty times in her chest and passed away in the hospital from cardiac arrest due to her injuries. To this day, no arrest has been made in Rita’s case.
Rita Hester’s death rocked the trans and gender non-conforming community in Boston and brought awareness to the pattern of violence claiming Black and Latina trans lives across the country. The impact of Rita’s murder created Trans Day of Remembrance, a day where we mourn the loss of our trans family and raise awareness of the anti-Trans racist violence that devastate our communities.
And this is devastation is not over or reducing. According to the National Center for Transgender Equality (2020), the number of murders of trans people in 2020 surpasses the total numbers of 2019 in just seven months of this year. Specifically, Black and Latina transgender women are marginalized and targeted for transphobic hate and violence (NCTE, 2020).
And it doesn’t just happen in big cities like Boston. In fact, anti-Trans violence happens right here in our own great state of Colorado, even in the rural community of Mesa County. On May 9, Jayne Thompson was shot and killed in Orchard Mesa, CO by a state trooper. Jayne was misgendered and deadnamed in her initial police report and was constantly facing harassment at her job and in her personal life for her trans identity and non-confirming gender expression. The state trooper did not face any charges and claimed self-defense “because Jayne had a knife” (HRC, 2020).
These are devastating, grief-wielding stories and unfortunately there are many. As we gather, remember, and share in our love and grief may we also find healing, family, love and belonging.
The Student Disability Center proudly works alongside many trans, genderqueer, non-binary and gender non-conforming students here at CSU. As members of our Ram community and SDC family, we extend our deepest gratitude and heartfelt support for all trans, students, faculty, staff, and community members who make our lives fuller and more beautiful because you are here. We acknowledge that many trans lives are lost to anti-Trans violence and transphobia and we have witnessed much violence and loss this year to racist, transphobic, and pandemic related vulnerabilities, and so much more.
If you identify as trans or gender non-confirming and are looking for additional support and resources while on campus such as name-change, healthcare, and community support, we encourage you to check out the Trans on Campus page through the Pride Resource Center. We also urge our community to attend the Trans Day of Remembrance Ceremony Friday, November 20 at 12:00pm via Zoom to remember those we have lost to racist and transphobic violence.
To our community of Black trans folk, we send you fierce, fierce love. To our first-generation non-binary Latinx family, we fiercely love you. Sending some fierce, fierce love out to our disabled genderqueer small-town lovelies, and our gender non-conforming big-city crushes. We mourn you, we grasp for you in the darkness, we keel over under the weight of our longing for you. As we remember and grieve for you, we come together with our sadness and loss and grow and ache, and we might just burst with heartbreak if not for the love that envelopes us in knowing that we are not alone.
We say your name when we call for justice.
- Dustin Parker, McAlester, OK
- Alexa Neulisa Luciano Ruiz, Toa Baja, Puerto Rico
- Yampi Méndez Arocho, Moca, Puerto Rico
- Monica Diamond, Charlotte, NC
- Lexi, New York, NY
- Johanna Metzger, Baltimore, MD
- Penélope Díaz Ramírez, Bayamon, Puerto Rico
- Layla Pelaez Sánchez, Puerto Rico
- Serena Angelique Velázquez Ramos, Puerto Rico
- Nina Pop, Sikeston, MO
- Helle Jae O’Regan, San Antonio, TX
- Tony McDade, Tallahassee, FL
- Dominique “Rem’mie” Fells, Philadelphia, PA
- Riah Milton, Liberty Township, OH
- Jayne Thompson, Mesa County, CO
- Selena Reyes Hernandez, Chicago, IL
- Brayla Stone, Sherwood, AR
- Merci Mack, Dallas, TX
- Shaki Peters, Amite City, LA
- Bree “Nuk” Black, Pompano Beach, FL
- Summer Taylor, Seattle, WA
- Draya McCarty, Baton Rouge, LA
- Tatiana Hall, Philadelphia, PA
- Marilyn Cazares, Brawley, CA
- Tiffany Harris, The Bronx, NY
- Queasha D. Hardy, Baton Rouge, LA
- Brian “Egypt” Powers, Akron, OH
- Aja Raquell Rhone-Spears, Portland, OR
- Lee Rayshon Daye, Cleveland, OH
- Kee Sam, Lafeyette, LA
- Aerrion Burnett, Independence, MO
- Mia Green, Philadelphia, PA
- Michelle Michelly Ramos Vargas, San German, Puerto Rico
- Felycya Harris, Augusta, GA
- Brooklyn Deshua, Shreveport, LA
- Sara Blackwood, Indianapolis, IN
- Angel Unique, Memphis, TN
- Yuneski Carey Herrera, Miami, FL
When making statements about transgender or gender non-conforming communities, we recommend first reading HRC’s Brief Guide to Getting Transgender Coverage Right.
NCTE (August 20, 2020). Transgender.org. Murders of Transgender People in 2020 Surpass Total for Las Year in Just Seven Months. Retrieved November 19 2020 from https://transequality.org/blog/murders-of-transgender-people-in-2020-surpasses-total-for-last-year-in-just-seven-months
HRC (2020). www.HRC.org. Fatal Violence Against the Transgender and Gender Non-Conforming Community in 2020. Retrieved November 19 2020 from https://www.hrc.org/resources/violence-against-the-trans-and-gender-non-conforming-community-in-2020