Members of Chicago's transgender community, as well as their allies, gathered at West Point Missionary Baptist Church on the city's South Side the evening of Nov. 20 to observe the Transgender Day of Remembrance.
This particular occasion was significant, noted host LaSaia Wade, because it was the first time that such an occasion was held on the South Side. Many participants additionally noted that it marked the first time in ages that they'd set foot in a church, a space in which transgender and non-binary folks are often made to to feel uncomfortable.
As such, West Point Baptist's Rev. L. Bernard Jakes, spoke about his church's commitment to supporting the LGBT community, noting that other related events had been held there. "Consider this place your home," he said.
An important component of the Transgender Day of Remembrance is remembering the transgender individuals who've been lost in what amounts to an epidemic of violence against the communities. The Nov. 20 event closed with the readings of the names of the individuals who'd been lost to date in 2019. But organizers also stressed the importance of remembering the accomplishments of trans persons who've work diligently in service to the community; seven such individuals were so honored at the event, and presented with plaques from Mayor Lori Lightfoot.
Wade said, "We wanted to let some people know that we see you."
Among those honored were Wade and activists Caprice Carthans, Tatyana Moaton, LaToya Tinch, Channyn Lynne Parker, Reyna Ortiz and Courtney McKinney. Antonio King of Chicago Department of Public Health presented the awards.
Carthans and Moaton each gave speeches about their experiences and transgender rights, as did Angelina Nordstrom. Nearly all the participants stressed the importance of transgender and nonbinary folks being able and unafraid to advocate for themselves. In her remarks, Carthans emphasized, "If you're not at the table, you're on the menu," later adding that everyone in the community must "show up where the space [for trans people] is."