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St. Pete entertainers, activists mark Transgender Day of Remembrance

Margie Manning

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Iman T. Holdridge spoke at the Transgender Day of Remembrance at St. Petersburg City Hall.

This year has been the deadliest year on record for transgender and gender non-conforming people.

The names of 37 transgender and gender non-conforming people who were killed in 2020 were listed on a sign at St. Petersburg City Hall.

The Human Rights Campaign has reported 37 deaths from violence so far this year, more than any other year since the HRC began tracking data in 2013.

Those victims were remembered in a ceremony on the steps of St. Petersburg City Hall Friday night. Each victim’s name was listed on a large banner. Local entertainers and activists solemnly read each name.

The list included three Florida victims — Tony McDade of Tallahassee, Bree Black of Pompano Beach, and Yunieski Carey Harerra of Miami.

“Looking at that banner with 37 names on it is heartbreaking,” said Tristan Byrnes, a gender therapist who has helped organized the annual event for the past several years.

While 2020 was a rough year, Byrnes said there were some positive aspects.

“We’ve found ways to connect in a forced disconnection, whether it’s getting back on the phone with people who haven’t made a phone call in a long while, whether it’s Zoom meetings or drive-through birthday parties. We’ve learned that and I hope we carry that into 2021,” Byrnes said. “There’s been a lot of conversations around racial injustice this year. Obviously more work needs to be done, but I believe through open conversation, baby steps begin and we can move forward. Also, there’s been a lot of talk this year of the fact that Black trans women are a definite part of the Black Lives Matter movement. It’s been spoken by more people than normal, which is an important part of acknowledgment.”

Inclusivity is important, said Iman T. Holdridge, a local entertainer.

“We must make all efforts to be inclusive of all the people in our community. If we don’t we are no better than the perpetrators of the crimes against our community,” Holdridge said. “Our Pride boards and committee should be diverse and focused on  unifying us … Having an all-white board does not represent all the views. Our boards and committees should be the rainbow of the community they serve.”

She also urged local LGBTQ organizations to welcome young people into the fold, and a member of the trans youth community provided a testimonial at Friday night’s ceremony.

Transgender ceremony from St. Pete Catalyst on Vimeo.

The Human Rights Campaign Foundation, the educational arm of the Human Rights Campaign, the nation’s largest lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer (LGBTQ) civil rights organization, has released “An Epidemic Of Violence: Fatal Violence Against Transgender and Gender Non-Conforming People in the United States in 2020,” highlighting the data that HRC has collected since 2013 on the epidemic of violence.

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