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Remembering Transgender Violence Victims

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Kalamazoo Gay Lesbian Resource Center
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A gathering at Kalamazoo College on Sunday, January 23, remembered transgendered people around the world who’ve been killed in hate crimes. But organizers of the annual “Transgender Day of Remembrance” hope it inspires as well as giving a chance to mourn.

Artist and educator Sojn Boothroyd helped organize at the event at the Arcus Center for Social Justice Leadership.

"This year we have over 200 people whose lives have been lost, two in Detroit. And these are reported hate crimes, so there are many hate crimes that take place that have not actually been reported as anti-transgender hate crimes." 

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Credit WMUK
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Jay Maddock and Sojn Boothroyd

Jay Maddock, the executive director of the Kalamazoo Gay Lesbian Resource Center, says there are several reasons for that under-reporting, including a lack of awareness by police agencies investigating deaths involving transgender people.

"Often times, when you're working with a homicide that might be a 'Jane Doe' or a 'John Doe,' there's not enough awareness to know whether that person is transgender or not. So, often they don't get reported as a transgender individual and they're misgendered in their death." The Transgender Day of Remembrance in Kalamazoo included music and poetry. And Sojn Boothroyd says that reflects the purpose of the event.

"Our hope is, one, to definitely raise public awareness but also to inspire. And to encourage our allies, to educate our allies, to inspire trans people to keep living our lives, and that we can create change, and change will come."

Boothroyd and Maddock say violence against transgender people is one of the reasons protection for them should be included in Michigan’s Elliott-Larsen Civil Rights Act. Competing bills have been introduced in Lansing. One would add protection against discrimination based on gender expression as well as sexual orientation but the other does not include protection for transgender people. Both say that protection is necessary because of discrimination in the workplace and bullying in school, among other problems.

People who believe they have been victims of discrimination based on their sexual orientation or their gender expression can call the Kalamazoo Gay Lesbian Resource Center at (269) 349-4234, or visit its webpage.

Andy Robins has been WMUK's News Director since 1998 and a broadcast journalist for over 24 years. He joined WMUK's staff in 1985. Under his direction, WMUK has received numerous awards for news reporting.