Listen to this article

At least four Iowa communities or groups are holding events today in honor of the National Transgender Day of Remembrance.

The statewide nonprofit One Iowa will hold a virtual panel to recognize the National Transgender Day of Awareness at noon today; anyone can participate for free from anywhere. PFLAG Oskaloosa in central Iowa will honor transgender people lost to violence during a 6 p.m. ceremony tonight. The City of Iowa City, in eastern Iowa, began flying a flag in honor of the date last week, and will keep the flag up until Wednesday. Its mayor Bruce Teague will issue a proclamation Tuesday.

Another city in Iowa is holding an event but publicizing it only to a private group.

Meanwhile, at least eight Illinois communities are holding recognitions of the day, reports the Illinois Eagle. They include Carbondale, Decatur, Grayslake, Oak Park, Springfield, Rockford, Urbana, and Willow Springs. Groups holding these events include LGBTQ+ community centers in Rockford (the Liam Foundation) and Carbondale (Rainbow Cafe LGBTQ Center), and PFLAG Decatur.

Advertisement

In Carbondale, the day’s meaning has become especially significant after the Rainbow Cafe posted a transphobic comment posted by the president of a nearby Anna’s elementary School Board president. The comment compared being transgender to a mental illness. “Comparing the identities of trans individuals to mental illness is incredibly harmful,” the center wrote “It creates a hostile environment for trans and non-binary students, as well as the parents and teachers who support and educate them.”

The original Transgender Day of Remembrance was founded in 1999 by activist Gwendolyn Ann Smith, a year after prominent transgender African-American Boston resident Rita Hester was murdered in her home. Afterwards, Hester was misgendered and “dead-named” by the police, and then the media. The annual recognition has grown into a week-long international event that culminates with ceremonies today and tomorrow.

 

Deaths of transgender people down in 2022 while hate crimes have increased

“Though trans visibility has increased greatly since Hester’s death, gender non-conforming people are still murdered at a rate far higher than the national average, and the majority of victims are Black trans women,” writes the History Channel. “Even though violence against trans people is understood to be vastly underreported, 2021 was reported to be the deadliest year on record for trans and gender non-conforming people, with more than 50 murders. The Human Rights Campaign notes that in nearly half of cases, the police or media misgendered the victim.”

This year, the number of violent deaths of transgender people is slightly less, reports Forbes. But hate crimes against transgender people have notably increased.

In 2022, hate crimes against transgender people increased 33 percent over 2021, reports Them. The article cited an FBI report that noted 469 hate crimes against transgender people in 2022, compared to 353 in 2021.

The statewide LGBTQ+ rights group One Iowa plans to continue the tradition of honoring transgender people lost to violence. It also will add “a different approach,” it wrote in a Facebook post. “”Instead of solely reflecting on lives lost to anti-Trans violence, we want to highlight the positive impact individuals are making in Iowa. These inspiring individuals actively work towards creating safer spaces for the transgender community, promoting understanding, inclusivity, and resilience.”

You can register for the free online One Iowa event here.

Illinoisans can find information in the Illinois Eagle about events happening today.