I attended Transgender Day of Remembrance 2015 in West Hollywood and it was an amazing and inspiring event. The city of West Hollywood, along with the Transgender Advisory Board and the Los Angeles LGBT Center, are to be commended for their efforts in putting together such an outstanding program. The sense of belonging was so strong and it was a special feeling to be there and experience this with my community, and it was a night I won’t ever forget.
The speakers, including James Wen, Bo James Hwang, and Dr. Jaye E. Johnson, all had very inspirational and uplifting messages about how we as trans people should be valued for who we are and to be able to feel good about ourselves, and that together we can affect change if we stand united and make our voices heard. We are so often forced to deal with negativity so it was it was nice to hear words of hope and to feel good about who we are.
Listening to names and hearing the stories of those we lost this year was heartbreaking. It makes you wonder what kind of a world we live in when we are faced with such violence and hate simply for trying to be ourselves. So much senseless death and violence. The number of people we lost to suicide is just as painful, knowing that so many trans men and women felt so hopeless that the only option they felt they had was to take their own life. This must change.
The musical selections included performances by Alexandra Billings, actress of the Golden Globe and Emmy Award winning television show “Transparent” and Our Lady J who was recently named by OUT Magazine to the “Out 100” list of people who have shaped the LGBT culture. Also performing was the Trans Chorus of Los Angeles, which is the first chorus for transgender and gender-expansive people in the nation that also has a transgender artistic director. The songs were full of inspiration and brought the crowd to its feet after each performance.
The theme of the evening was “Not One More” to bring home the message that we as a society are one whole community and not a bunch of separate entities, and that we need to embrace each other and value the diversity that makes our culture so unique and special. This message was so eloquently spoken by Dr. Jaye E. Johnson whose passion and energy were inspiring as he preached that trans lives matter and that we need to make our voices heard, and that not one more trans life should be lost because of hate and violence. The crowd rose as one with chants of “Not One More” which was a powerful moment. And he closed by saying that it is his hope and dream that during his lifetime November 20th will be a day to celebrate the transgender community and not a day to mourn those who we’ve lost. Amen to that.
After the program concluded there was a candlelight march through North Hollywood, and that was another amazing and emotional part of the evening. We marched through the blocked off streets carrying the trans flags and flowers, along with the signs carried by some. Our voices were loud and clear with chants of “Not One More”, “Trans Lives Matter”, and “Stop Transphobia.” What filled my heart with hope and happiness, and brought more tears, were all the people along the route we marched who showed their support by honking and giving us a thumbs-up, and the people who stood and cheered us. It was powerful and inspiring to experience so much support and acceptance and to be have the chance to feel good about who we are.
I am grateful that I participated in this event because it was incredibly powerful and reaffirming that there is hope and that our lives do matter. It was a night I will not soon forget.