Transgender Remembrance Day & Book Recommendations
Transgender Remembrance Day (celebrated annually on November 20) is the final day of remembrance for members of the transgender community who have been killed due to transphobic violence. It caps off Transgender Awareness Week, which is celebrated from November 14th to November 20th and seeks to spread awareness on the issues faced by Transgender people all over the world.
The Human Rights Campaign (HRC) states that at least 34 trans and non-binary people have been killed directly due to transphobic violence in 2020 alone. The HRC has been keeping a running list of transphobia-related deaths since 2013. Statistically, 46% of trans and non-binary people experience verbal transphobic harassment, and 1 in 10 trans or non-binary people have been physically attacked. 47% have been sexually assaulted, and 54% have experienced some type of intimate violence from a partner. These statistics increase for trans/non-binary POC and disabled trans/non-binary people.
In honor of this day of remembrance, we would like to pay homage to some of the transgender people we have lost so far in 2020, as well as some books relating to the transgender community and experience.
2020 Deaths (CONTENT WARING: Cause of death is listed when known):
- Dustin Parker, 25, died on January 1 in Oklahoma. He was shot while driving a customer in his taxi cab.
- Neulisa Luciano Ruiz* died February 24 in Puerto Rico. She was shot by teenagers while trying to use a womens restroom.
- Yampi Méndez Arocho*, 19, died on March 5 in Puerto Rico and has been continuously misgendered after his death.
- Monika Diamond*, 34, died on March 18 in Charlotte, North Carolina. She was shot while being treated inside of an ambulance.
- Lexi*, 33, died on March 28 in Harlem, New York. She was stabbed while at work at Harlem River Park.
- Johanna Metzger died on April 11 in Baltimore, Maryland. She was stabbed while visiting a recovery center in the area.
- Penélope Díaz Ramírez*, 31, died on April 13 in Puerto Rico. She was beaten while in the custody of a men’s prison and her death was not reported until April 27.
- Serena Angelique Velázquez Ramos*, 32, and Layla Pelaez Sánchez*, 21, both died on April 21 in Puerto Rico.
- Nina Pop*, 28, died on May 3 in Sikeston, Missouri. She was stabbed in her apartment multiple times and was misgendered in early news reporting regarding her murder.
- Helle Jae O’Regan, 20, died on May 6 in San Antonio, Texas. She was stabbed while working at a local barbershop.
- Tony McDade*, 38, died on May 27 in Tallahassee, Florida. He was shot in his apartment by an officer of the Tallahassee Police Department and was misgendered by both the police and media after his death.
- Dominique “Rem’mie” Fells*, 27, died on June 9 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Her body was pulled from the water and police noted that there was evidence of trauma to her face and head.
- Riah Milton*, 25, also died on June 9, in Liberty Township, Ohio. She was shot by two men and a teenage girl. She was mis-gendered by media multiple times after her death.
- Jayne Thompson, 33, died on May 9 in Mesa County, Colorado. She was shot by a police officer after she was discovered unresponsive and was mis-gendered for months after her death.
- Selena Reyes-Hernandez*, 37, died on May 31 in Chicago, Illinois. She was shot in her home after telling the killer that she was transgender. Initially, her killer left the house without violence, but returned later with the murder weapon.
- Brian “Egypt” Powers*, 43, died on June 13 in Akron, Ohio. Powers was shot outside of a church by the University of Akron.
- Brayla Stone*, 17, died on June 25 in Little Rock, Arkansas. She was shot and her body was found later in a car.
- Merci Mack*, 22, died on June 30 in Dallas, Texas. She was shot at an apartment complex in Dallas.
- Shaki Peters*, 32, died on July 1 in Amite City, Louisiana. Her cause of death was never announced.
- Bree Black*, 27, died on July 3 in Pompano Beach, Florida. She was shot on a crowded street, yet the identity of her killer has not been found.
- Summer Taylor, 24, died on July 4 in Seattle, Washington. She was hit by a car at the Black Femme March in solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement.
- Marilyn Cazares*, 22, was found on July 13 in Brawley, California. Firefighters found her body in an abandoned building after responding to an emergency call.
- Dior H Ova*, who was also referred to as Tiffany Harris, died on July 26 in the Bronx, New York. She was stabbed in an apartment building by Fordham University.
- Queasha D. Hardy*, 22, died on July 27 in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. She was shot on a street and mis-gendered in news reports after her death.
- Aja Raquell Rhone-Spears*, 34, died on July 28 in Portland, Oregon. She was stabbed while attending the vigil of another murder victim.
- Kee Sam*, 24, died on August 24 in Lafeyette, Louisiana. She was shot in a hotel and was rushed to a hospital before succumbing to her injuries.
- Aerrion Burnett*, 37, died on September 19 in Independence, Missouri. She was shot two days before her 38th
- Mia Green*, 29, died on September 28 in Philadelphia Pennsylvania. She was found shot during a traffic stop. The driver stated that was bringing her to the hospital when police pulled him over, but it turned out that he was the shooter.
- Michelle Michellyn Ramos Vargas*, 33, died on September 30 in Puerto Rico. She was found on the side of the road with multiple gunshot wounds.
- Felycya Harris*, 33, died on October 3 in Augusta, Georgia. She was shot and killed in Meadowbrook Park.
- Brooklyn Deshauna*, 20, died on October 7 in Shreveport, Louisiana. She shot inside of her apartment.
- Sara Blackwood, 39, died on October 11 in Indianapolis, Indiana. She was shot while walking home. She died on National Coming Out Day.
- Angel Unique*, 25, died on October 25 in Memphis, Tennessee. She was shot in a Motel 6 in the Whitehaven neighborhood of Memphis.
*Denotes a person of color.
The unfortunate reality is that, while there are 34 reported transphobic-related deaths so far this year, the number is probably much higher due to the incorrect reporting of gender identity or simply just the crimes going unreported in general. 2020 was the Human Rights Campaign’s highest ever count for transphobia-motivated murders since they started counting in 2020, and out of the 34 on the list, 29 of them were people of color.
If you would like to further educate yourself on the transgender/non-binary community and their experiences, check out the following resources, available online or in person at the Public Library of Youngstown and Mahoning County.
Hey Listen: The Transgender Community and Their Experiences (Non-Fiction) is a non-fiction book and media list available on BiblioCommons that showcases books and media by transgender authors and about the experiences through which they have gone.
“You’re in the Wrong Bathroom!” And 20 Other Myths and Misconceptions About Transgender and Gender-Nonconforming People was written by Laura Erickson-Schroth and discusses common misconceptions about transgender people. She has also written and edited other books like Trans Bodies, Trans Selves (available through SearchOhio) and Gender: What Everyone Needs to Know.
Raising the Transgender Child: A Complete Guide for Parents, Families & Caregivers was written by Dr. Michele Angello and Alisa Bowman and attempts to answer all of the questions that caregivers may have when their young people come out to them. Dr. Michele Angello is one of the top psychologists and the “go to expert” in all things regarding trans and gender non-conforming youth. Alisa Bowman is an advocate for transgender and gender non-conforming youth and a mother to a transgender son.
TransMission: My Quest to a Beard by Alex Bertie is a first-hand account of his trials and tribulations growing up as a transgender youth. In an accessible, easy to understand way, Bertie explores the transgender experience with his readers in a comedic style.
Hey Listen: The Transgender Community and Their Experiences (Fiction) is a fiction book list available on BiblioCommons. This list contains books written by trans authors and/or about trans characters.
Felix Ever After by Kacen Callender is about a young trans boy named Felix Love who, ironically, wonders if he’ll ever find love himself. When Felix gets outed during a summer session at his prestigious New York art school, he is determined to find out who shared his pre-op photos with his entire class. Now being made into an Amazon Prime TV series!
Cemetery Boys by Aiden Thomas is a bit more magical than your everyday experience. Yadriel’s family has trouble understanding that he wants to transition. It’s not that they don’t like it, they just don’t get it. In efforts to show his family how powerful he is as a brujo, Yadriel summons a spirit that he thinks is his cousin’s ghost. But it’s not. It’s Julian Diaz’s ghost and in his time alive he was his high school’s troublemaker. Now Julian won’t leave Yadriel alone and in time, does Yadriel want him to?
Grease Bats by Archie Bongiovanni is a graphic novel about two best friends, Andy (a genderqueer trans person) and Scout (a clutzy guy with big, big feelings), and the antics that they get into in their early 20s.
If you would like more information on transgender and LGBTQIA+ resources in the Mahoning County area, check out the LGBT Full Spectrum Community Outreach web page, which holds gender and sexuality support groups and other events throughout the year. If you’re a parent, friend, or ally of a transgender, gender non-conforming, or otherwise LGBTQIA+ child or teen, consider joining our local PFLAG group.
Taylor is a librarian at the Canfield branch who enjoys researching LGBTQIA+ issues, learning about various LGBTQIA+ experiences, and sharing her own experiences with others. She’s currently reading The Marrow Thieves by Cherie Dimaline.