In one week, it will be Thanksgiving Day for Americans. Turkeys will be roasted or fried by those more adventurous. Families will gather and many thanks will be given for the good things over the past year.
Today however is not a day for giving thanks. Today is November 20th the Transgender Day of Remembrance, the day we remember transgender individuals who have been killed in the last year. Vigils will be held, tears will be shed and we will all hope that next year's list of names is shorter.
www.transgenderdor.org has a full list of the dead. We know their names and how they died but what do we know of their lives? The murder of a transperson is big news. The gory details get reported. How many times the were shot, how many time they were stabbed, how many times they were beat in the head. The shock from the murderer, "I didn't know 'it' was a man."
Where is the person who was killed? What can you tell me about the kind of person there were, of their dreams or hopes for the future?
It's there if you look. I looked and here is what I could find...
She worked in a beauty salon.
She was a drag queen in New Mexico and was Miss New Mexico Gay Rodeo Association of 2008. She could sew beautiful dresses in hours.
"She was an icon in the community," said Wade Kuenzi, assistant manager and bartender at her favorite bar, Sidewinders Ranch gay bar.
She was studying to be a nurse and cared for an elderly man.
Patricia had recently adopted a puppy in the wake of her breakup with Shawn Arquette, her boyfriend of 14 years.
She never wanted to hurt anyone. When she was attacked outside of Sidewinders in 2006, her boyfriend had a hard time convincing her to care pepper spray afterward.
He moved into the Bradford Apartments in early 2007. He quickly made friends among the other tenets. He dressed as a woman, experimenting with hair weaves and colors.
From his friend Tiffany Wells:
"Soon, he was doing everybody's hair and making money at it."
"Simmons made sure that you didn't just get a nice hairdo but a lift for your spirits as well."
"He was a jokester. He liked to tell jokes and make you laugh."
Simmons quit his job at Captain D's to focus on the hairstyling. His mother, Felicia Moultrie, had her hair done for free.
"He was cuttin' a fool, and laughing and joking," Moultrie said.
Lawrence (Leticia) King
Go here http://www.newsweek.com/id/147790/page/1 for a well written article. Skip page 1 and page 5 if you don't want to read about her death.
Simmie Williams Jr.
She was a sensitive 17-year-old and had recently signed up for Job Corps. She aspired to attend culinary school and to become a chef.
Williams was openly-gay and lived with a supportive mother but had not come out as transgender at home.
She was a transgender activist for LGBT and AIDS groups.
She worked during the day in the billing department for the University of Wisconsin Medical Foundation.
On nights and weekends, Melton-Smyth was a part-time employee at the Shamrock, where she helped raise money for AIDS initiatives. She was known there for cracking jokes as she served Sunday brunch.
"Her unofficial title here was cruise director. She took care of fundraising, parties, decorations. She kept the place in line," said Cheryl Vigdal, who worked with her six years at the bar. "The smiles, the jokes she put out, that was priceless around here."
In her own words:
"Living with Purpose" an article about tranisitioning and her aids work.
"In Loving Memory of Felicia Melton-Smyth" an obituary she wrote herself.
When she was 5 or 6, she draped towels over her head to look more like a girl. She liked fixing her sisters' hair or dabbling in makeup more than playing sports.
She worked as a shift manager at a fast food restaurant
She worried she would never be happy. She had met a man she liked but he wouldn't commit because of her transgender status.
Angie loved her family, especially her nieces and nephews. She also loved her godson Diego. She would buy them name-brand clothing and definitely Nike shoes. Even if she had a few dollars left, she would spend it on them, said her friend and transgender mentor, Kitty DeLeon.
Jaylynn L. Namauu
She attended Baldwin High School but never graduated. She lived with her parents in Kihei until her early twenties. She enjoyed swimming at Makena Landing and Big Beach in South Maui.
She was living in Honolulu after getting out of jail for violating her probation for forging a check.
"As far as I know, he really had a good heart. He was a sociable person. He was a good person," her sister-in-law Crystal Namauu said.
"People tease him because of what he was. He would just tell you straight what he thinks, but he wouldn't let it bother him."
Nakhia (Nikki) Williams
She painted and wrote poetry.
She loved to laugh, loved Madonna and was an activist for transgender women with HIV.
When she was diagnosed with terminal cancer one of the things that most bothered her was that she was going to miss seeing Madonna play at the Pepsi Center. After being told she had been misdiagnoesd it was one of the thing she was looking forward to most.
Teish (Moses) Cannon
Her family accepted her. Pictures of her dressed as a woman were on display in the family's living room.
"Teish was loving, caring and compassionate," said Rhonda Gary, Cannon's aunt. "She carried herself with respect."
She was unemployed but formerly worked as a supervisor at a Motel 6.
This is how I want to remember these people. Not for how they died but for how they lived.
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