Not One More: Trans Day of Remembrance Rally and March Held November 20

Brynn Laurel

11/20/2020- Kansas City, Missouri

An audience gathers to listen to speakers at the Trans Day of Remembrance: Not One More Rally and March

Photo by Andrei Stoica

The Trans Day of Remembrance Not One More Rally and March was held Friday, November 20. The event began with speakers at the Vietnam Veteran’s Memorial in Kansas City, Missouri.

Transgender Day of Remembrance began in 1999 following the murder of Rita Hester, a trans woman who had been killed the previous year. Trans rights activist Gwendolyn Ann Smith held the first event. It has run yearly since on November 20 to honor the lives of trans folx that were lost and bring awareness to the multifaceted, systemic issues that affect the trans community.

Speaker Skyler Whittaker, a local organizer who works with several organizations, including EQUAL Trans Support Group, said that as a disabled, trans activist, their work focuses on fighting for the “freedom both to make decisions about our own bodies and our lives and to make sure that everyone else has that freedom.”

“Some of us are a lot less free than others, so let's talk about which trans lives are the most risk,” they said. “Black and brown trans people are not free. Undocumented trans people are not free. Indigenous trans people and Two Spirit people are not free. Poor and working class trans people are not free. Disabled and mentally ill and neurodivergent trans people are not free. Homeless trans people are not free. HIV positive trans people are not free. Trans survivors (of) domestic violence are not free. Trans sex workers are not free. And in the most literal sense, incarcerated trans people, trans prisoners are not free…’Not one more’ needs to be not one more of these people.”

“Our society was never built for the most vulnerable members of our community to be able to survive,” they said.

Korea Kelly, a LGBTQIA historian and activist, asked attendees to say the names so that stories will not be forgotten. She talked about Aerrion Burnett, Breonna Be’Be Hill, Dee Dee Pearson, Faith Iman Scott, Brooklyn Lindsey, Tamara Domingas, Reese Walker, Jamagio Berryman, Nina Pop and others.

“Let’s not forget the names of those who live right here,” Kelly said, but stressed that Kansas City needed to support the trans community with more than words. “Stop talking about it and actually take action…It takes all of us as a community to stand together as one.”

Freddie Dolphus, a Black queer transman and personal trainer and martial arts instructor, asked attendees to “honor us while we are still alive.”

“It is time for us to really take a stand, not just when we go to protests,” he said. “When one is harmed, we all are harmed.”

Circe Johnson, another local activist, said that advocacy can’t just be for those who have been lost.

“Keep checking up on trans people while we’re alive,” she said. “Don’t give us our flowers when we die…don’t only care about us when we die.”

Viktor Gee, a trans activist who does healing work, also spoke of the need for community—especially now.

“It’s hard to exist right now, and it’s even harder to try to exist alone,” they said.

For Gee, that sense of community was part of the importance of Trans Day of Remembrance. “The goal right now is to take up more space,” they said. “While we're enjoying the space we begin to create for ourselves, we should open that up for the people who couldn't make it.”

After the rally, attendees marched on the sidewalk down to Community Christian Church. There was a memorial and space for reflection and meditation set up inside the church, and attendees could go inside in small, socially distanced groups.

Other groups involved included the City of Fountains Sisters, the Kansas City Center for Inclusion and the Kansas City Anti-Violence Project.

Published on: 11/27/2020