Leeds City Council and Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust are lighting up iconic buildings today to mark Transgender Day of Remembrance (TDoR).
Leeds Civic Hall, Leeds Town Hall and the Brotherton Wing at Leeds General Infirmary will be illuminated in the colours of the trans flag to honour those who have suffered transphobic violence over the past year and beyond. The trans flag will also be flying from the buildings.
Transgender Day of Remembrance first began in Boston in 1999 when transgender advocate Gwendolyn Ann Smith held a vigil to honour the memory of Rita Hester, a transgender woman who was killed the previous year. The vigil honoured and remembered the transgender people lost to violence since Rita’s death.
This became an important annual tradition that is now known as Transgender Day of Remembrance, recognised across the globe on November 20 every year.
The annual vigil in Leeds is unable to go ahead this year due to Covid-19 restrictions, but people are still being encouraged to mark the day by lighting a candle at home and reflecting on the lives lost over the last 12 months.
Councillor Jonathan Pryor, Leeds City Council’s executive board member for learning, skills, employment and equality said:
“It is a tragedy that lives continue to be lost due to transphobic acts of violence. Tackling hate crime in all forms remains one of Leeds City Council’s key priorities and we are committed to showing our support for the trans community today and every other day. We want all trans and non-binary people to know that they have many allies and friends across Leeds. We would encourage anybody who is a victim of a hate crime to report it to West Yorkshire Police in the first instance.”
Councillor Hannah Bithell, Leeds City Council’s LGBT+ Champion said:
“Today we are remembering those who have lost their lives in Leeds and across the globe in acts of anti-transgender violence, as well as those who have sadly taken their own lives. Everybody has a right to be who they are and our aim is for Leeds to be an entirely inclusive place that celebrates diversity. Although the traditional vigil can’t take place today, we will still be remembering those who are no longer with us today.”
Julian Hartley, Chief Executive of Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust, said:
“Today we are lighting up our hospital buildings in the colours of the Trans flag to demonstrate solidarity with our Transgender colleagues, patients, friends and family, and remembering those who have sadly lost their lives as a result of hate. We champion inclusivity and openness in our hospitals for patients and staff from all backgrounds, regardless of their sexuality or gender. By joining partners across Leeds on this day we are sending a clear message that transphobic violence and abuse is not tolerated in our city or our hospitals.”
Natasha Handley, Trans Leeds, said:
“Trans day of remembrance is a day we remember the lives that have been lost over the last year. In normal times, this would be a day we gather together as a community but this year has been especially trying. This year we remember those who have been lost to violence, those who have been lost through inequality and those who have been lost through the ongoing pandemic.
“Though we can’t gather, the community is still here for each other. We always will be. Even those we have lost we still carry in our hearts. If you are ever in need of support, you can reach out to us on social media or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org”
More information about TDoR can be found at https://www.glaad.org/tdor and https://www.amnesty.org.uk/blogs/lgbti-network/transgender-day-remembrance
Support for trans people is available from Trans Leeds at https://transleeds.lgbt/