Vigil to remember lives lost to anti-transgender violence on Friday


Four Charleston-area LGBTQ advocacy groups will hold a Transgender Day of Remembrance vigil on Friday at 5:30 p.m. outside the Equality Hub in North Charleston and streamed on Facebook.

The social-distanced event hosted by Charleston Black Pride (CBP), Charleston Area Transgender Support (CATS), We Are Family and the Alliance for Full Acceptance honors the memory of transgender people whose lives have been lost in acts of anti-transgender violence.

The Equality Hub is located at 1801 Reynolds Ave. in North Charleston.

“We remember those we lost because all too often they have been rejected and forgotten by society at large,” CATS leader Lee Anne Leland said in a press release. “We say their names to keep their memory alive. If we don’t, who will?”

At least 36 transgender or gender non-conforming people have been fatally shot or killed by other violent means this year, according to the Human Rights Campaign. The majority of these deaths were Black and Latinx transgender women.

“We are hosting the vigil to create change, to honor those that we have lost to horrific, target violence and to educate the public about staggering rates of violence that trans people face on a daily basis,” Charleston Black Pride founder and president Regina Duggins said in a press release.

The day of remembrance began in 1999 as a vigil to honor the memory of Rita Hester by transgender advocate Gwendolyn Ann Smith after Hester was killed in 1998.

“It’s also an excellent way to get politicians to listen to the transgender community while furthering the education of our allies on transgender issues and laws,” Duggins said. “Until a hate crime law is passed in South Carolina, our work is not finished.”

Advocates have been calling for South Carolina to adopt a statewide hate crime bill for some time. The state is one of three without one at the state level, alongside Arkansas and Wyoming.

Advocates have pushed for a statewide hate crime bill for years without success. Charleston passed its own municipal hate crime ordinance in 2018.

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