New Yorkers mark Transgender Day of Remembrance

transgender day of remembrance vigil
The names of people killed by transphobic violence during the last year were read aloud at a candlelight vigil.
Credit: Bess Adler

A few dozen New Yorkers marked Transgender Day of Remembrance on Wednesday with a windy walk across the Brooklyn Bridge culminating in a candlelit vigil outside Brooklyn Borough Hall.

By the light of small white candles, the names of victims of violence from all over the world were read aloud. Gunce Hatun, age unknown, stabbed in the chest in Istanbul, Turkey. Evon Young, 22, tied up, beaten, choked with a chain, shot, set on fire and left in a dumpster with a bag taped over his head — in Milwaukee.

And here in New York: Islan Nettles, 21, who died in August after being brutally beaten in Harlem.

Denarii Monroe, a graduate assistant at PACE University’s LGBTQA & Social Justice Center, was one of the allies who braved the chilly night to walk across the iconic bridge in solidarity.

She noted that New York “has it a lot better” than most places, but emphasized the value of confronting the transphobic discrimination that does occur.

“It’s important to recognize it exists and to fight it, because without it stuff like this is going to keep happening,” she said, referring to murders like that of Nettles and others, killed “because someone else couldn’t recognize their humanity.”

Erin Drinkwater, the executive director at the Brooklyn Community Pride Center, which organized this march for the third year in a row, said part of the problem is that many of these deaths are never resolved, adding to the feeling of being forgotten. In particular, she spoke of Lorena Escalera, a transgender woman killed in the Brooklyn neighborhood of Bushwick last year. Her murder remains unsolved.

Charges were dropped this week against the only suspect arrested in Nettles’ assault. Notably, those charges had been misdemeanor counts, brought after Nettles was beaten but before she died.

In court, an assistant district attorney made clear that the D.A.’s office is still investigating Nettles’ death as a homicide.

So, Drinkwater maintained, “It’s going to be one of those wait-and-see moments.”

Follow Danielle Tcholakian on Twitter @danielleiat


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