Pittsburgh's first Transgender Day of Remembrance on Nov. 21, says coordinator Emilia Lombardi, was developed as much to draw attention to the lives of trans people as to their deaths.
"For the most part ... trans people are totally ignored," says Lombardi. "They're a footnote, a quick blurb in the news about a man in a dress being killed. Trans people live very isolated lives." The event, which began in San Francisco in 1998, may help other trans people (ranging from those who dress in drag to those who have changed gender via surgery) "to realize they are not alone, that their experiences of discrimination and violence are not unique ... and that there are people working to end this," she says.
Lombardi, 37, of Swissvale, an assistant professor in the University of Pittsburgh's Graduate School of Public Health, is arranging the event with Transpitt, Pittsburgh Transsexual Support Group and other organizations. She says it's hard to reach the general public with concerns about discrimination, in employment and generally, against trans people. "I think mostly [that's] because how complex a lot of these issues are. Most people, when they think of gender, they have one thing in mind. Trans people have something different."
The Remembrance Day ceremony includes speeches by Caeden Dempsey, field director of the National Center for Transgender Equality in Washington, D.C., Wendi Miller of Pittsburgh Transsexual Support Group, and local drag queen Kierra Darshell.
Acceptance for the transgendered may be a tough sell in a country where gay marriage was defeated at the polls in all 11 states voting on it on Nov. 2.
"It's not going to be better, but it's not going to be that much harder," Lombardi says. "We're dealing with an uphill battle anyway. The radical right is just starting to notice us. I don't think they know who we are."
Nov. 21, 7 p.m., St. Andrew Lutheran Church, 304 Morewood Ave. near Centre; contact firstname.lastname@example.org.