Pat Rose: Transgender Day of Remembrance honored locally on Nov. 27 |

Pat Rose: Transgender Day of Remembrance honored locally on Nov. 27

The Transgender Day of Remembrance was started in 1999 by transgender advocate Gwendolyn Ann Smith as a vigil to honor the memory of Rita Hester, a transgender woman who was killed in 1998.

The vigil commemorated all the transgender people lost to violence since Hester’s death, and began an important tradition that has become the annual Transgender Day of Remembrance each year.

“The Transgender Day of Remembrance seeks to highlight the losses we face due to anti-transgender bigotry and violence. 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,” said Smith.

Why is it important in Nevada County?

PFLAG Nevada County has seen a clear increase in inquiries about transgender issues over the last few years, with most coming from parents of transgender children under the age of 18. In almost every case they are looking for information about how to obtain counseling and health care from supportive providers, and their desire to understand more about their transgender family member. Some come with their children, and others by themselves, to the monthly transgender support group provided by PFLAG on the fourth Tuesday every month.

During these meetings, attendees both young and old, have shared about the harassment they have experienced locally. Some of these experiences have been physical, but the majority are verbal. The youth in our schools are subjected to bullying and ugly slurs about their orientation from classmates. Many of these youth attend a gay-straight alliance (GSA) club at their schools where they share with one another about their journey and what is happening in their lives. Not all schools have a GSA, so the monthly support groups at PFLAG are a safe place for them to share.

How can I participate in the Transgender Day of Remembrance?

Participate in the Transgender Day of Remembrance by attending a presentation to honor all those whose lives were lost to anti-transgender violence this last year. The vigil often involves reading a list of the names of those who died during the last year. This year your local PFLAG Nevada County Chapter along with the Unitarian Universalist Community of the Mountains Church, the Sierra Pines Methodist Church and the Sierra Center for Spiritual Living, have come together to provide a short candle light remembrance and reading of the names of those lost this last year. This will take place after the PFLAG support groups and transgender presentation on Nov. 27.

All of these will be held at the Unitarian Universalist Community of the Mountains located at 246 South Church St. in Grass Valley. You are invited to come and attend the support groups which begin at 6 p.m., then the transgender presentation at 7 p.m., followed by the candle light remembrance when the presentation finishes. The candle light service will be presented by the Rev. Joan Pell from Sierra Pines United Methodist Church, the Rev. Rafe Ellis from the Sierra Center for Spiritual Living and the Rev, Kevin Tarsa from the Unitarian Universalist Community of the Mountains Church.

The presentation this year will begin after our support groups and will be presented by Dr. Charlene Hauser, a Nevada County physician, and Rachael Hudson from the Gender Health Center located in Sacramento.

Each of these women have new things to share with those attending regarding the transgender community. While Hudson will focus more on resources and services for transgender people of all ages, Hauser will be addressing issues faced medically, especially by younger transgender people.

With a question and answer session after the presentation, this is a good time to ask the questions that have been on your mind.

For more information contact Pat Rose of PFLAG at 530-277-0489.

Pat Rose lives in Grass Valley.

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