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Ten Years of
Transgender Remembrance

Ten Years of
Transgender Remembrance

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Thursday marks one decade of acknowledging the Transgender Day of Remembrance, with celebrations and vigils being staged all across the country.

Thursday marks one decade of acknowledging the Transgender Day of Remembrance, with celebrations and vigils being staged all across the country.

Allyson Robinson, the Human Rights Campaign's associate director of diversity, says this year was one of the worst on record for transgender people.

"The most highly publicized murders in the transgender community this year had included Lawrence King and Angie Zapata," she said in a statement on Thursday. "Then last week we learned that Duanna Johnson, the transgender woman who in July was bludgeoned by police officers, had been murdered execution-style on the streets of Memphis. And just this week came word of he shooting death of Latiesha Green in Syracuse, N.Y., by someone she had only met hours before. All told, at least 15 transgender people have been murdered in hate crimes in the U.S. this year alone."

The Federal Bureau of Investigation does not keep records on hate crimes performed because of a person's gender identity. However, data for 2007, the latest available, indicates that 15.9% of hate crimes were due to the victim's sexual orientation.

Zapata wanted to become a professional cosmetologist and drag performer in Denver. She was just 18 when she was found dead on July 17 in her Greeley, Colo., apartment. Her accused killer, Allen Andrade, was charged with murder as a hate crime in August, after admitting to police that he had "killed it." The hate-crime charge can add an extra 18 months to his sentence if he is convicted.

Bridges McRae, a former Memphis police officer has been charged with beating Johnson while she was in police custody. Johnson was being booked for prostitution in February. McRae, 28, and his partner James Swain, 25, were both fired after video surfaced of the beating. Despite the video, McRae has pleaded not guilty.

Dwight DeLee, 20, has been charged with murdering 22-year-old Green, and prosecutors are considering whether he will additionally be charged with a hate crime. Green and her brother Mark were invited to a party, but people were bothered by the fact that Green was transgender, according to WSYR News. When they pulled up in their car, DeLee approached them, shouting profanities. According to authorities, went back inside the house and returned with a gun, shooting at Green and Cannon. The bullet hit Green in the chest, and Cannon drove her to University Hospital in Syracuse, N.Y. where they she was pronounced dead.

The Transgender Day of Remembrance started in November 1998 to honor Rita Hester, a local Boston rock scenester who was brutally murdered in her apartment. The first vigil was held in Boston as a response to her death, with 250 people gathering to march through the streets. The following year, numerous cities joined Boston in remembering others who have been lost to violence. (Michelle Garcia, The Advocate)

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