November 20, 2008
Dear MCC Family:
This year marks the 10th anniversary of the International Transgender Day of Remembrance, the first observance of which was held in San Francisco in 1999 to commemorate the 1998 death of Rita Hester. Like most homicides against transgender people, her murder remains unsolved.
Many countries have since joined in the commemoration, making this an annual event in which people across the globe come together to remember our transgender siblings lost to violence and hatred, and recommit to the work of ending violence and honoring the vision of one world, one people, one family.
Throughout this week, MCCs and partner organizations around the world will set aside time to remember and mourn. We will also come together to recommit ourselves to the tireless work necessary to end transphobic violence and hatred.
Only 11 days ago, the list of those who have lost their lives to anti-transgender violence grew one name longer. Today we remember Duanna Johnson and call on the Memphis police to honor their vow to protect all people and all communities.
Six days ago, Moses "Teish" Canon lost her life to an unknown assailant in Syracuse, New York. As we add her name to the list, her mother is calling on police there to designate her child’s murder as a hate crime.
Since 1970 Remembering Our Dead (http://www.rememberingourdead.org) has compiled the names of 298 transgender people murdered solely because of their gender identity or expression. Every month, year in and year out, one or more persons is murdered simply because they are trans-identified.
We add these names in 2008:
+Patrick Murphy, found dressed in women’s clothing
+ Alphonsus Simons
+Lawrence King, a boy who liked to wear makeup to school
+Simmie Williams, Jr.
+Juan Carlos Aucallo Coronel
+Jaylynn L. Namauu
+Samantha Rengel Brandau
They came from places as diverse as Michigan and Malaysia. They represented many cultures and ethnicities, many gifts and talents — each one part of God’s plan in creating a diverse world.
At least two of this year’s victims were still teenagers. Most everyone else was in the prime of life. On this day of remembrance, let us recommit ourselves not only to pray for the dead, but also to fight for the living.
Join us in praying for an end to all hatred and violence, especially that directed against our transgender siblings.
Pray with us that God will keep all our hearts and minds open to the power and purpose of diversity and to the witness of love alone.
Commit to do one thing before the end of the year to help end violence and promote safety and goodwill among all.
If you live someplace where legal protection and equality are in place for transgender people make sure you contact your legislative and governmental representatives and thank them for their witness to justice.
If you live someplace where those protections and guarantees are not in place, write to your repesentatives in legislative, judicial and governmental bodies and demand change.
Negotiate with local law enforcement agencies to secure training for all personnel that will enhance protection and safety for transgender people.
Contact local community health organizations and offer to volunteer as an advocate and companion for transgender patients seeking medical care.
Make transgender safety a priority for your church by providing dialogue among members about gender and, if possible, transgender experiences.
Prepare your congregation to be welcoming and inclusive of transgender people. Then, advertise your church as safe space for transgender people, and reach out to neigh-boring congregations who might need a hand doing the same. Find resources to help with this at www.mccchurch.org/MCCTransgenderMinistries.
Together we can make this world a better and safer place for all of us.
In hope, prayer and solidarity,
Melanie Martinez and Angel Collie
for MCC Transgender Ministries
This message prepared by MCC Transgender Ministries, in conjunction with MCC’s Global Justice Team, The Rev. Pat Bumgardner, chair, and The Rev. Jim Birkitt, MCC communications director.