Building on the social media hashtag proclaiming that #BlackLivesMatter, activist group Black Trans* Women's Lives Matter announced Friday that they will be holding a vigil and "call for peace" outside the Congressional Black Caucus Conference on September 27.
The action will be held at 4 p.m. outside the Walter E. Washington Convention Center in Washington, D.C., and intends to draw attention to the epidemic of violence against transsexual and transgender women of color in the U.S.
Attendees will also honor the many Black and Latina trans women murdered this year, including Alejandra Leos, Cemia Dove,Tiffany Edwards,Kandy Hall, Zoraida Reyes, Yaz'min Sancez, Betty Skinner, and Nicole Kidd-Stergis.
Organizers hope the vigil will inspire elected officials to join BTWLM in solidarity, organizer and journalist Ashley Love explains to The Advocate. The choice of a nonviolent demonstration can allow officials to feel more comfortable about participating, she says.
"Most elected officials are reluctant to publicly join the trans* community's plea for justice," Love pointed out in a statement. "Does the newly popular slogan '#BlackLivesMatter' mean ALL Black lives, or just some? Are the murders of our trans* sisters less worthy of tears, of outrage -- their humanity 'less than'?"
In the wake of a national outcry over racial violence, spurred by the murders of Black, male, cisgender (non-trans) teens Trayvon Martin and Michael Brown, noted trans activist Miss Major Griffin-Gacy, in support of the BTWLM action, stated that "Jim Crow is not dead; it just has a new mask." Griffin-Gacy currently leads the TGI Justice Project and was present at the 1969 Stonewall Riots.
"As an elder in the Black trans community I have befriended, loved, and then buried too many of my trans sisters over the decades due to hate-based violence," she added. "Half of us are unjustly gone and yet we still can't get the powers-that-be to call out this terrorism for what it is."