Last night, more than 100 members of the community came together on the campus of Old Dominion Unversity (ODU) for the Hampton Roads Transgender Day of Remembrance (TDOR) a local celebration of transgender lives around the world – especially those lost to senseless violence each year. (Slideshow below.)
This year, the event was led by the Transgender Assistance Program of Virginia (TAP VA) and other allied groups and commemorated the 22 transgender persons murdered in 2019 and honor transgender persons who are attempting to live positive lives despite obstacles.
Nyonna Byers was a featured local speaker that spoke on the importance of being visible and remainig positive despite societal obstacles. Other local speakers honored friends and family lost to violence. Xemiyulu Manisbusan Tapepechul and Ahanu On, artists and activists from Washington, D.C. were the evening’s keynote speakers.
According to their biographies, Xemiyulu Manisbusan Tapepechul is a heart of a Womxn, a Two-Spirit from Kuskatan, the land known internationally as El Salvador. She is the Artistic Director of Nelwat Ishkamewe, and the Director of Art & Culture of Trans-Latinx DMV. Xemi has had her plays produced in various festivals, and she has published five works of literature. Ahanu On is a Two-Spirit from the Blood Tribe and currently lives on Piscataway land commonly known as Washington, D.C. They are an artist, an advocate, a supporter, and a fighter for the Two-Spirit community.
Rev. Mark Byrd of the New Life Metropolitan Community Church gave remarks on what TDOR means from a spiritual perspective. Following Byrd’s remarks, attendees were asked to light candles for a moment of silence followed by a video remembering the 22 transgender persons murdered during 2019 prepared by Michelle Reed of LGBT Life Center. Following the formal event, attendees enjoyed refreshments and socialized in the lobby of the Mills Godwin Building.
Joining TAP VA in organizing this annual event include the LGBT Life Center, New Life Metropolitan Community Church of Hampton Roads, Alpha Omega Kappa Fraternity, Stonewall Sports Norfolk, Hampton Roads Pride, Coastal Virginia Unitarian Universalist Church and PFLAG of Norfolk / South Hampton Roads.