Rep. Pressley Leads House Colleagues in Honoring Trans Day of Remembrance

November 20, 2019
Press Release

WASHINGTON – Today, Congresswoman Ayanna Pressley (MA-07) led a Special-Order Hour on the House Floor to honor Trans Day of Remembrance, an annual remembrance of transgender lives stolen by anti-transgender violence. As part of the commemoration, Congresswoman Pressley spoke on the floor to honor Rita Hester, a Black transgender woman killed in the Massachusetts 7th district, for whom Transgender Day of Remembrance was established in 1999, as well as 22 transgender individuals killed in America this year.

 

Congresswoman Pressley has been a close ally to the transgender community and the entire LGBTQ+ community. Last week, she introduced the People’s Justice Guarantee, which includes a call for trans people to be housed in accordance with their gender identity. On multiple occasions, she has spoken out against Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Secretary Ben Carson’s attacks on housing protections for transgender people. Last month, she explored anti-LGBTQ biases in accessing housing and credit during a hearing of the House Financial Services Subcommittee hearing. In May, she spoke on the House floor in support of the Equality Act, legislation which provides non-discrimination protections to LGBTQ Americans.

 

Congresswoman Pressley’s full remarks are below and can be viewed here.

I rise today in remembrance of Rita Hester, a Black transgender woman killed in the Massachusetts 7th district, for whom Transgender Day of Remembrance was established in 1999. I rise today because, 20 years later, too many more lives continue to be stolen. This year, we have been robbed of at least 22 transgender people because of hate, fear, and vitriol. 22 souls, the majority of whom are Black transgender women.  22 people whose families, friends, and partners are forever marred by grief. 22 experiences of second-hand trauma for transgender people everywhere.

Among them, we remember: Dana Martin, Jazzaline Ware, Ashanti Carmon, Claire Legato, Muhlaysia Booker, Michelle ‘Tamika’ Washington, Paris Cameron, Chynal Lindsey, Chanel Scurlock, Zoe Spears, Brooklyn Lindsey, Denali Berries Stuckey, Tracy Single, Bubba Walker, Kiki Fantroy, Jordan Cofer, Pebbles LaDime ‘Dime’ Doe, Bailey Reeves, Bee Love Slater, Jamagio Jamar Berryman, Itali Marlowe, Brianna ‘BB’ Hill. May they rest in peace and power.

Today we remember still others, not included on this list because their Missing Persons reports remain uninvestigated or because they are misgendered and deadnamed after they pass because the people closest to them refused to recognize their truths. We remember those who die from preventable illnesses, poverty, and violence as a result of discrimination in health care, employment, education, and housing.

We remember transgender women Johana ‘Joa’ Medina and Layleen Polanco, victims of an unjust and cruel immigration and criminal legal system. Madam Speaker, colleagues – the transgender community deserves to be celebrated. Yet, I am heartbroken by the way our policies, our inaction, and this administration continue to neglect, unfairly target, and commit violence against them. On this day, I also rise to lift the talents and strengths of this community, so they are not defined only by their trauma.

I honor you, my transgender friends, for your bravery to honor your truths, for intentionally creating a beautiful, rich sense of community, and for being role models as leaders of social change. I stand before you, committed to listening to your needs, to recognizing and centering transgender lives, not just today, but every day, and to being your partner in ending this devastating crisis. Last week, I introduced the People’s Justice Guarantee – a resolution that reaffirms our collective right to live free from injustice.

I rise today, resolved in the fight to ensure our rights to dignity, liberation, and justice – justice for transgender people. Justice for all in America.

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Transgender Day of Remembrance is about remembering lives we’ve lost too soon. But it should also be about remembering the bravery of transgender people everywhere.  I rise again to acknowledge the contributions, often overlooked, of transgender women of color who have been champions of social change. It was transgender advocates in my district who established the first Transgender Day of Remembrance in 1999 in honor of Rita Hester, a Black transgender woman, described as vivacious, outgoing, and loved by many people.

On this day, I rise to remember the transgender women of color who were catalysts for the LGBT rights movement in the United States and around the world. We remember the bravery of Miss Major Griffin-Gracy and the late Sylvia Rivera and Marsha P. Johnson in the face of the police who violently raided the Stonewall Inn in New York City in 1969, detaining and arresting people for just being themselves.

When faced with compounded transphobia, racism, sexism, and homophobia, transgender people have marched and resisted. When confronted with structural barriers, transgender people have organized and advocated. I am committed not just to lift the stories of lives lost but to work in partnership, legislating boldly. I see their power. I honor their activism.

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