Southeast Alaska LBTQ+ Alliance Board Chair JoLynn Shriber reads a list the names of killed transgender people as Thunder Mountain High School students Kyla Stevens, center, and Laila Williams hold flags in the wind during a transgender remembrance at Marine Park on Wednesday, Nov. 20, 2019. (Michael Penn | Juneau Empire)

Southeast Alaska LBTQ+ Alliance Board Chair JoLynn Shriber reads a list the names of killed transgender people as Thunder Mountain High School students Kyla Stevens, center, and Laila Williams hold flags in the wind during a transgender remembrance at Marine Park on Wednesday, Nov. 20, 2019. (Michael Penn | Juneau Empire)

Juneau remembers transgender lives lost this year

At least 22 were killed in the U.S. in 2019.

Fewer than a dozen people gathered to remember at least 311 people.

Wednesday was Transgender Day of Remembrance, and it was observed in Juneau with a small candlelight vigil at the Downtown Marine Park Pavilion.

Transgender Day of Remembrance started 21 years ago, according to Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation, as a way of remembering members of a community who are disproportionately targeted for violence. Transgender women were found to be 1.6 times more likely to experience physical violence and sexual violence as well as 1.4 times more likely to experience hate violence in public places compared to other hate crime victims and survivors, according to the National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs.

In 2019, 22 transgender or gender non-conforming people have been killed, according to the Human Rights Campaign. At least 311 transgender or gender non-conforming people were killed worldwide between Oct. 1, 2018 and Sept. 30, 2019, according to the Trans Murder Monitoring project of the Berlin-based group Transrespect versus Transphobia Worldwide.

The reason “at least” is used when discussing these figures is that some countries do not track violence against transgender people and people are sometimes misgendered after death, said JoLynn Shriber, board chair for Southeast Alaska LGBTQ+ Alliance, who organized Juneau’s Transgender Day of Remembrance event.

“There’s a lot of people who aren’t accounted for,” Shriber said.

[Transgender ban means uncertainty for Juneau LGBTQ+ community]

The Juneau event included reading the names of the 22 killed transgender people from the U.S.

While the event wasn’t well attended —something Shriber partly attributed to windy, rainy weather and an outdoor venue — Shriber said people reached out to send messages of support or express regret they were unable to attend.

“It wasn’t wasted at all,” Shriber said. “It’s such a somber event, but it’s refreshing to have these conversations.”

She said anyone interested in volunteering with SEAGLA can reach out by emailing akseagla@gmail.com or by Facebook.

For 17-year-old Laila Williams, it was her first time attending a public LGBTQ+ event. Williams said she identifies as questioning.

“It honestly fills me with pride,” Williams said. “It’s nice to know someone has my back.”

[Juneau residents observe Transgender Day of Remembrance]

Williams, who moved from Anchorage to Juneau in May, said she was struck by the supportive community in the capital city.

“Down here everyone’s more accepting,” Williams said.

Both Shriber and Williams expressed guarded optimism that acceptance will grow and that things are getting better.

“I really think it is,” Williams said.


• Contact reporter Ben Hohenstatt at (907)523-2243 or bhohenstatt@juneauempire.com. Follow him on Twitter at @BenHohenstatt.Concer


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