In the early morning hours of February 22, Simmie Williams was walking the streets of Ft. Lauderdale. But before the sun came up, the 17-year-old openly gay teen was shot by two men. He died at the scene. Later, police reports indicated that Williams was wearing women's clothing.
These are just two of the reported 14 people killed this year because they didn't conform to society's expectation of gender. The murders will highlight this year's Transgender Day of Remembrance, a Nov. 20 vigil held in cities across the nation.
From the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLADD):
According to an estimate by the Human Rights Campaign, transgender Americans face a one-in-12 chance of being murdered. Statistics from the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network (GLSEN) show that in schools 14.2 percent of transgender students report being physically assaulted as a result of gender expression, while 30.4 percent experienced physical harassment.
It's definitely a problem and one that gets little coverage and even less understanding. One just has to look at the Pinellas County Commission's decision this year to not cover transgender folks with their revamped Human Rights Ordinance. Or the circus surrounding Susan Stanton.
No doubt, that will be one of the topics addressed at the Clearwater vigil for the Day of Remembrance, which will be held at Unity Church, 2465 Nursery Road, tonight at 7 p.m. One of the speakers will be Julie Yoo, who you might remember from past Creative Loafing articles.
If you can't make the Clearwater vigil, the USF PRIDE Alliance is planning their own ceremony tomorrow, 7 p.m. at the MLK Plaza on the Tampa campus. For more information, contact Rhea Pendleton of PRIDE at 941-323-9616.