Three local churches are joining together to host a Transgender Day of Remembrance gathering in Brunswick at 5 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 20, at the Unitarian Universality Church of Brunswick, 1 Middle St. Join organizers the Rev. Dr. Kharma Amos from the Unitarian Universalist Church of Brunswick, Rabbi Lisa Vinikoor from the Beth Israel Congregation of Bath and the Rev. Hillary Collins-Gillpatrick from the First Universalist Church of Yarmouth in a service to honor the transgender and gender-variant lives lost this year to transphobic violence.

The Associated Press recently reported that at least 32 transgender people have been killed in the U.S. this year. Many victims of transphobic violence never have their deaths publicly acknowledged, according to the UU Church of Brunswick. With the recent bombardment of anti-trans legislation aimed to suppress the trans and gender-variant community in this country, the acknowledgement of these tragic deaths is all the more critical, the church stated in a news release.

Transgender advocate Gwendolyn Ann Smith began Transgender Day of Remembrance in 1999. TDOR began by as a vigil to honor the memory of Rita Hester, a transgender woman who was killed in Allston, Massachusetts, in 1998. The vigil also commemorated all the transgender and gender-variant lives lost to anti-trans violence in the time following Rita Hester’s murder. This began a tradition that has evolved into an annual Transgender Day of Remembrance observed throughout the world on Nov. 20.

“Transgender Day of Remembrance seeks to highlight the losses we face due to anti-transgender bigotry and violence,” Smith said. “I am no stranger to the need to fight for our rights and the right to simply exist is first and foremost. With so many seeking to erase transgender people — sometimes in the most brutal ways possible — it is vitally important that those we lose are remembered and that we continue to fight for justice.”

While this event is being held at a church and led by religious leaders, it is open to all who support the transgender and gender-variant community.

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