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Transgender Day of Remembrance observed this past Sunday

Candles memorializing the lives remembered at Sunday's event.
Chris Drew
Candles memorializing the lives remembered at Sunday's event.

The event memorialized the lives of transgender people lost to violence in the last year

November 20th is recognized annually as the international Trans Day of Remembrance, a time to memorialize the lives of transgender people lost to violence in the last year. Locals observed the day at an event in Springfield this past Sunday the 19th.

Almost 400 names appear on an international list of trans lives lost. During Sunday’s event, locals took turns reading a portion of those names along with brief bios, giving those lives a chance to be remembered and memorialized.

Tonya Claiborne is an organizer with Springfield’s Transgender and Ally Resource Team, known as START, a coalition behind this year’s Day of Remembrance.

Claiborne says there is no reason transgender people can’t thrive when surrounded by support and acceptance, but prejudice and hostilities expose many to violence from others and push some to harm themselves.

Claiborne says there are two significant reasons behind the annual event.

She says many times when transgender people pass, they are misgendered or dead-named in news and obituaries. This time gives them a chance to be remembered by their authentic name and identity.

It is also a chance to make people aware of the oppression the trans community faces. Claiborne says the Remembrance can “bring a realization to people that there are folks actively out there harming us.” She added that this is not just interpersonal violence, explaining “there are legislators and various elected officials at various levels actively seeking,” to harm the trans community.

The American Civil Liberties Union reported over 500 anti-LGBTQ laws active in state legislatures in 2023. Laws limiting access to gender affirming care and participation in school sports passed in Missouri this year. The FBI’s 2022 crime report found attacks based on gender identity up 32.9% from 2021, this year’s statistics will be available in 2024.

Sunday, after an introduction and accompanied by cello, almost two dozen people took turns observing the somber event, reading names and lighting electric candles for each life memorialized.

The first name in the program hit close to home, for many in attendance. Quinn Deleski was 25 when she took her own life on December 5th, 2022, in Columbus, Ohio. Quinn graduated from Ozark High School. She was a recent graduate of Missouri State University.