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Transgender Day of Remembrance Recap

Members of O῾ahu’s transgender community and allies gathered for a public ceremony and vigil to mark Transgender Day of Remembrance (TDOR) in Hawai῾i. The event, hosted by The Kua῾ana Project, took place in the late afternoon of November 20 at ARTS at Marks Garage in downtown. The program featured an opening by Kumu Hinaleimoana Wong-Kalu, a recitation of names of those who have lost their lives to anti-trans violence this year, and tributes to local trans community members who passed this year. The program also included music, hula performances, and refreshments.

TDOR began in 1999 by trans advocate Gwendolyn Ann Smith to honor the life of Rita Hester, a trans woman who was killed in 1998. Since then, the day has marked an opportunity to remember the lives of those who have lost their lives to anti-trans violence.

“We are grateful for the opportunity to convene in person again to honor the lives of those who have lost their lives to anti-trans violence as well as those in our trans community who have passed. We also use this occasion to invite allies and the larger community to consider the persistent social and structural stigma faced by trans people in every facet of life,” said Maddalynn Sesepasara, HHHRC’s Transgender Services Manager. Sesepasara also serves as the co-chair of the Sexual and Gender Minority Working Group of the Hawai῾i State Department of Health.

Hawai῾i has among the highest number of transgender residents in the nation on a per capita basis according to a June 2022 survey from Williams Institute at UCLA School of Law. The COVID-19 pandemic saw continued disparities in economic well-being and health for the trans community. Trans people are three times more likely to have symptoms of severe psychological distress than cis people and twice as likely to have anxiety and depression.

Earlier this year, Governor David Ige signed bills to increase access to gender-affirming care and prohibit exclusion from a jury on the basis of gender identity. The bills were part of the first package from the Legislature’s Equality Caucus, co-chaired by Rep. Adrian Tam and Sen. Chris Lee.

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