The names of 325 transgender individuals who were slain worldwide between October 2016 and Sept. 30, 2017, were read aloud Sunday evening in Portland’s Monument Square.

The Transgender Day of Remembrance brought together members of Portland’s transgender community, which is trying to raise public awareness about the high rates of murder and violence faced by transgender people in Maine and around the globe.

Quinn Gormley, executive director of the Maine Transgender Network, said the majority of victims are transgender women of color and migrants, and that 62 percent are engaged in “survival sex” – trading sex for a food or shelter – or sex work.

“The Transgender Day of Remembrance is a special day for those of us in the trans community. We peel back the veil for a few hours, and are honest with each other and our allies about just how hard it is to be trans in this world today,” Gormley said. “Violence is a daily reality for many people in Maine. Sexual assault, homelessness, suicide, discrimination. These are hard things to talk about and even harder to draw the public’s focus to.”

The first Transgender Day of Remembrance was held in Massachusetts in 1999 following the murder of a trans woman of color, Rita Hester. Since then, the event has grown into a day of international remembrance in countries around the world.

Three more vigils in Maine have been scheduled for 6 p.m. Monday, according to the Maine Transgender Network. They will be at Eastport Hall on the Bangor campus of the University of Maine Augusta, in Belfast at Waterfall Arts, and at Kennedy Memorial Park in Lewiston.

“Grief, rage and despair are common reactions to this event,” Gormley told the crowd of about 75 people who gathered in Monument Square.

During the reading of the names of those killed, individual transgender speakers told the crowd about their personal experiences.

Madison Raymond, a trans community member, told a story about being mugged on a city street by two men. The attackers, who have not been located by Portland police, used offensive names during the robbery, and the crime and the police response to it changed the way Raymond looks at life in Portland.

“I believe we need to advocate for a world that is safe and to teach people not to hate, but to live,” said another speaker, Cybele Brandow, who co-chairs the Pride Portland Steering Committee.

Gormley said the list of names that were read Sunday come from the Trans Murder Monitoring Project, a program of the Transgender European Union. The list of those who were killed in the previous annual reporting period had 295 names, compared to the 325 names read aloud Sunday.

Gormley said the increase may have been a result of improved reporting systems or increased rates of violence against the transgender community.

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