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Participants in the annual Atlanta Transgender Day of Remembrance read 222 names and instances of transgender people around the world killed violently for who they are. At the conclusion of the Nov. 20 vigil on the steps of the state capitol, groups of red balloons were released into the sky, representing the blood of those violently attacked and killed in 2011.
Sir Jesse Beller, a DeKalb County teacher and trans activist who works with the Georgia Safe Schools Coalition, played “Taps” on his trumpet to remember the dead.
Organized by Tracee McDaniel, founder and CEO of the Juxtaposed Center for Transformation, and supported by numerous organizations including Lambda Legal, Georgia Equality, the Human Rights Campaign and Meak Productions, the annual event attracted some 100 people this year.
As dozens gather on the steps of Georgia Capitol each Nov. 20, names are read aloud, each followed by a single chime of a bell ringing out into the cold night.
The gathering is the annual Transgender Day of Remembrance vigil, and the names are of transgender people who have died due to violence or discrimination. The bell is a stark reminder that some people want others who are “different” to be forgotten. Forever.
“This is the most emotional part of the vigil to me,” says Tracee McDaniel, founder and executive director of the Juxtaposed Center for Transformation, Inc., and organizer of Atlanta’s Transgender Day of Remembrance.
“These people are deceased. We memorialize those individuals by reciting their names — their families don’t want to remember them, others don’t want to remember them. We are making sure their names and their memories are remembered,” McDaniel says.