In June, Eleanor Dewey learned about the murder of Zoraida Reyes. For many, Reyes was a statistic, just another name on a growing list of transgender women killed in the United States -- at least eleven in 2014. But Dewey remembers Reyes as a friend, a fierce immigrant-rights organizer who had volunteered at the Denver-based organization Rights for All People and worked on the Undocuqueer campaign in California.
"It's been a really intense year for a lot of us. A lot of girls have been lost this year," says Dewey, co-director of the Colorado Anti-Violence Program, an organization working to end violence within and against lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer communities.
In response to the death of Reyes, Dewey helped organize a Colorado event for this year's national Transgender Day of Remembrance. She joined forces with Nevaeh Anderson, program director of TransAction, a support group for transgender people. "Transgender Day of Remembrance is a memorial day for trans people who were murdered because of hate crimes," Anderson says. "We're going to talk about the day of remembrance, read off the names and have an open dialogue."
The event will include a screening of the documentary We Deserve Better, about the relationship between the New Orleans transgender community and police violence. Participants will have the opportunity to share and videotape stories about the personal impact of violence and hatred.
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"Someone's always justifying the reason for hatred one way or another," Anderson says. "We are starting the dialogue where people get to know the other person outside of their gender identity.
"We are trying to get out accurate information about trans people across the spectrum. Why are people transgender? Why is it important to use the right pronouns? Why is it important to not ask about past names? I think common sense needs to be pushed out there."
Find me on Twitter: @kyle_a_harris