Attendees at this year's Transgender Day of Remembrance (TDOR) event at Center on Halsted marked the passages of transgender Chicagoans over the last year in a both somber and celebratory event Nov. 18.
More than 75 people attended the event, held annually to pay tribute to transgender people murdered over the course of the year.
The occasion was especially poignant for many who recalled the recent deaths four gender-variant Chicagoans: Tiffany Gooden and Paige Clay, who were both killed in Garfield Park in separate incidents this year; luminary artist Mark Aguhar who died this Spring and veteran trans activist Lois Bates, who died of natural causes just days before last year's TDOR event.
An undercurrent of controversy had marked the evening after transgender advocate June LaTrobe, a longtime volunteer at the Center who coordinated past TDOR events, resigned. LaTrobe took issue with the Center's decision to accept a $250 donation from the Human Rights Campaign, a national organization that some feel has historically marginalized transgender people.
Only a few mentions were made of the fallout. Precious Davis, youth outreach coordinator at Center on Halsted who co-emceed the night, simply honored LaTrobe's history of advocacy.
Overall, however, the night celebrated young talent as several youth performed for "The Night of Fallen Stars" portion of the evening, coordinated by Broadway Youth Center (BYC).
The night started with non-denominational prayer, conducted by Rev. Jubi Dutcher and Rev. Gregory Gross. A video paid tribute to trans people murdered this year worldwide, including Chicagoans Tiffany Gooden and Paige Clay. An open mic followed, during which one person honored Mark Aguhar.
The evening also reflected on ground gained this year by transgender Chicagoans.
Lara Brooks, manager at BYC, recounted the year's local victories in a letter dedicated to Lois Bates. Brooks noted Chicago House's new TransLife Project, the efforts of the Transformative Justice Law Project, the city's first transgender pride event held over the summer, a new syringe exchange program for transgender youth and the continued presence of The Night Ministry's low-threshold shelter, The Crib.
"Lois, I want you know that you still guide so much of our work at the Broadway Youth Center and Howard Brown," Brooks said.
Performances, including song, theatre, dance, video and poetry capped off the evening.