Area churches and nonprofit organizations are joining together to host a Transgender Day of Remembrance gathering at 6:30 p.m. Monday, Nov. 20, at the Unitarian Universalist Church of Brunswick, 1 Middle St.

At least 40 transgender or gender-variant individuals have been victims of known deadly attacks in the United States this year, according to a news release. But many victims of transphobic violence never have their deaths publicly acknowledged. With the recent wave of anti-trans legislation, the Transgender Day of Remembrance acknowledges these tragic deaths and honors the victims’ memories.

Transgender advocate Gwendolyn Ann Smith began Transgender Day of Remembrance in 1999. It began as a vigil to honor the memory of Rita Hester, a transgender woman who was killed in Alliston, 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. Thus began a tradition that has become the 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 has 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.”

The Brunswick event will be broadcast virtually on Zoom for those who are unable to attend in person. While this event is being held at a church, it is led and supported by both religious leaders and community members from the Unitarian Universalist Church of Brunswick; First Universalist Church of Yarmouth; First Parish Church in Brunswick; Allen Avenue Unitarian Universalist Church of Portland; the Sexuality, Women, and Gender Center from Bowdoin College; and the Brunswick Pride Committee.

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