By Patricia Weber
The Transgender Day of Remembrance (TDoR) was created to memorialize those who were killed due to anti-transgender violence. The murder of Rita Hester on Nov. 28, 1998 started the annual memorial.
Rita Hester was an important person in the transgender and rock-n-roll communities of Boston. She was found stabbed to death in her apartment, and the assailant was never found. Hester’s sister told the police that on the night of her murder, two men followed her home from a bar, one of whom she knew. The only apparent motive for her killing is that Hester was transgender. She did work as a prostitute but there was no public evidence that her murderer was a client. Hester’s case was reopened at the request of her mother in 2006, but the case still remains unsolved.
Hester’s death started something important and meaningful in the trans community. It sparked the Remembering Our Dead web project and a candlelight vigil in San Francisco in 1999. Rita’s mother started an annual memorial to spread information about violence, hatred and prejudice against transgendered people. Since then, many events in cities across the United States and the world have begun to spread awareness and inspire action on behalf of alternately-gendered individuals.
The Alliance wants to help educate the Beloit College campus and hopefully we can also inform the greater Beloit community about issues of transgender violence. Please join the Alliance in a candlelight vigil for the trans people who have been harmed and killed due to violence and prejudice in the past year. It will be taking place on Pearsons front lawn from 8:00-9:00 p.m. on Sunday, Nov. 20. At the vigil, we will be offering a safe space to share stories of loved ones who have encountered prejudice for their gender expression, as well as sharing stories of trans people who have died this year.