When transgender people gather in Chicago to honor other trans individuals, it has always been to mourn the dead on Transgender Day of Remembrance in November.
But on March 31, trans people and allies gathered in Chicago to honor 100 living trans activists and advocates for the inaugural "Trans 100" list.
The event, held at the Mayne Stage in Rogers Park, commemorated a national list of leaders and thinkers.
The event is seen as the first of its kinda celebration dedicated to living transgender activists. It was held on the International Day of Transgender Visibility, a day observed in recent years to offer a counterpoint to the somber Transgender Day of Remembrance, which honors transgender murder victims.
The event attracted more than 200 people.
Jen Richards, who produced the event through her blog WeHappyTrans.com, said the list aimed to bring together transgender people of many different experiences and identities.
"We are all one community; look around," said Richards. "The only sustainable self interest is when we extend the self to include the whole community."
The evening featured performances from musicians Joe Stevens of Coyote Grace, Namoli Brennet and Chicago performer KOKUMO.
Dr. Kortney Ryan Ziegler of the blog blac (k) ademic and former People.com editor Janet Mock gave remarks.
Mock paid tribute to past generations of transgender activists, and she noted the significance first Trans 100 event.
"We are all standing witness to a legendary feat," Mock said. "We are actively writing the chapters of our revolution."
Presenters at the event noted that LGBT organizations have often failed to include or acknowledge the voices of transgender people.
The Trans 100 list, they said, was the first step to changing that.
"Today marks the beginning of a new era," said KOKUMO, a Trans 100 honoree. "It's about time that everyone under the rainbow get acknowledged."
The event is expected to be the first of an annual tradition. Honorees were chosen from a pool of 500 community nominations. A curatorial team of 17 selected the honorees over just six weeks.
The idea for the event was conceived by Toni D'orsay, a Phoenix-based transgender advocate.
Organizers of the Trans 100 have yet to release a full list of honorees. Check back for updates.
Disclosure: this reporter was among those included on the Trans 100 list.
"Trans 100 list released, 2013-04-09" here: www.windycitymediagroup.com/lgbt/Trans-100-list-released-/42288.html .