25 Americans were killed this year for being transgender. Friday night, people took to the streets of Cleveland to remember them and many others killed around the world, simply for being who they are.
The Trans community faces an incredibly high rate of attacks. Four trans people in the last four years have been killed in Cleveland and though the LGBT movement has come a long way, Friday night acted as a reminder that there’s a lot of work left to be done.
People marched from the AIDS Task Force of Greater Cleveland to the Trinity Cathedral near the Cleveland State campus.
The group of trans men and women, their families and friends, marched with signs that acted as gravestones. 75 of them, one for every trans person murdered in the last year.
Once inside the cathedral, the names of the dead were read out loud and their pictures were placed on the altar for all to see.
“To see Cleveland come together and be like, I’m sorry this happens but we’re here for you,” said Jessica Wilikins.
Wilkins, a 25 year old trans woman was among the marchers. She said she understands the fight for the trans community has a long road ahead.
“I have a lot of friends who’ve come out, they were disowned, they’re homeless,” said Wilkins.
“A lot of them lived in Cleveland and I’ve been discriminated against and it’s really sad,” she said.
“This is the largest number of individuals that we’ve seen within the United States that have been killed,” said Jacob Nash, the Founder and CEO of Margie’s Hope and organizer of the Night of Remembrance.
25 is the number of trans Americans murdered this year. The largest ever, according to the HRC. The night’s organizer, Jacob Nash says the trans community experiences higher rates of suicide and depression, poverty and discrimination.
“Most people don’t realize the violence that is bestowed upon transgender individuals simply for being who they are, for no other reason,” he said.
Nash hopes though, marches and visibility for the trans community will change that.
“People say that they don’t know a transgender individual and yet, they very well may be neighbors with one and don’t even realize it,” said Nash.
Currently, in a majority of states, including Ohio, you can be discriminated against in employment and housing if you are trans. Most people we spoke with though are hopeful that in the coming years, that will change.