Trans Day of Remembrance Vigil 2022
Updated: Nov 22
Shiv Kay, 21/11/2022
The weather forecast was for torrential rain and near-zero temperatures but, undaunted, over one hundred trans and nonbinary people and allies gathered together in Park Square, Leeds to remember their kinfolk lost to transphobic violence over the last year.
The Transgender Day of Remembrance 2022 event was led by Tom Shillito, co-ordinator of TransLeeds, who expressed his wish that as well as remembering and mourning the lost, the community should celebrate their lives.
Tom noted that there were 327 names on this year's list and that that frighteningly high number was only a small fraction of the actual total, many names going unreported or miscategorised. Of the 327, almost all were trans women or trans feminine, two thirds were people of colour and a half were sex workers. Of those who died in Europe, one third were migrants fleeing prejudice in their home countries.
Tom told the crowd about Naomi Fernades de Sousa, a 27-year old hairdresser from Brazil, and Zen Black, a 28-year old non-binary tattoo artist and car enthusiast from Downpatrick in Northern Ireland; both were deadnamed and misgendered in press coverage.
After a minute's silence, several attendees stepped up to share their thoughts and experiences, including those who had lost friends and relatives. One spoke of a Greek trans man friend who died following the denial of critical medical treatment, one of her journey coming to terms with her partner's transness, one of their personal struggles in coming out as part of a strict religious community. Many spoke of the need to fight for trans rights, and several talked about the alarmingly high rates of suicide and attempted suicide in the trans community. Union members and representatives related past struggles for minority rights and how important allyship is for the future.
The final speaker looked forward to a more enlightened time when a day of remembrance would no longer be needed.
Many thanks to the Leeds, Wakefield and York Unite Community Branch for kindly providing a PA system.