Community

This Saturday, the Kentuckiana Transgender Day of Remembrance service will be held much like other events in 2020: virtually.

Attendees won’t be able to enjoy the unplanned connections and physical closeness of an in-person event. But organizer Dawn Wilson hopes they’ll still benefit from hearing others’ stories during the event, at 7 p.m. on Zoom.

The event is part of an annual, international day of remembrance marked worldwide to remember transgender people who lost their lives to anti-transgender violence that year.

Wilson said this year has been tough for trans people. There were concerns about healthcare access amid a deadly pandemic as the Trump administration attempted to reverse rules protecting healthcare for transgender people, a move that was later blocked by a federal judge. There were a record number of killings of trans people, as well as suicides and mental health inequities exacerbated by the pandemic.

But Wilson says she plans to bring some positivity to Saturday’s remembrance service.

“Yes, we lost these people. But we did not lose,” she said of the message she will convey. “Here’s what they represent. Here’s who you are.”

In addition to Wilson, activist Rev. Louis Mitchell, lawyer and activist Kylar Broadus, activist and writer Jamison “James” Greene and activist and U.S. Navy veteran Monica Helms are some of the planned speakers.

Wilson, a transgender rights activist and a former commissioner of the Louisville Metro Human Relations Commission, said this year’s Transgender Day of Visibility will be emotional due to the death of Monica Roberts last month. Roberts was a prominent journalist and transgender advocate who worked with the Louisville Fairness Campaign.

Wilson, an organizer of this weekend’s Day of Remembrance Service, said Roberts’ death was a triple whammy for Black transgender people. Wilson says Roberts, who was a Black woman, worked with many trans youth and youth of color as well.

“A loss of somebody who was an icon in the community like Monica Roberts really drove the point home, given all the unrest we had with Black Lives Matter,” she said. “You know, if you are African-American, you felt this.”

Roberts’ award-winning blog TransGriot was focused on trans women of color. She was a repeat guest on the Strange Fruit podcast, and spoke about why she wrote for women of color in particular.

“Trans people of color experience a transition much differently from our white counterparts,” She said in 2014. “We are impacted negatively by racism that we deal with in our parent society, and even in the LGBT ranks.”

This year’s Kentuckiana Transgender Day of Remembrance Service will take place on Zoom this Saturday starting at 7 p.m.

Amina Elahi is WFPL's City Reporter.