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Ottawa County groups observe Transgender Day of Remembrance virtually

According to the Human Rights Campaign, there have been at least 37 transgender or gender non-conforming people killed this year.

A collection of Ottawa County groups are taking to the screens November 20, to observe Transgender Day of Remembrance. The annual vigil commemorates transgender people  who were lost to anti-transgender violence.

Gender SAFE, Out On The Lakeshore and PFLAG partnered to host a virtual gathering Friday at 7pm, where attendees will watch a memorial video and have the opportunity to discuss.

"The video is not only to remember those whose lives has been lost and includes a short bio of all of those people, but it is also a way to bring awareness and showcase what people in the community can do and the resources that are available," Jeffrey Sorensen, Director of Out On The Lakeshore said.

The event is open to the public and will be held via zoom. For safety purposes, attendees have to email Info@outonthelakeshore.org for the meeting invitation.

The online gathering is being held in place of a candle-lit vigil, which the groups have held the past three years, as COVID-19 concern is top of mind. Sorensen said the pandemic has had serious impact on the transgender community.

"Trans people, just like everyone else needing to quarantine, not having all the resources they normally would have," he said, "...This year we know that at least 37 trans people have lost their life due to anti-transgender violence."

While Ottawa County has made strides in the past three years, gaining more LGBTQ resources and the city of Holland adopting an anti-discrimination ordinance, Sorensen said it's clear there's still more to be done to protect the transgender community.

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"Even within the LGBTQ community, the trans community tends to be overlooked, so it’s important to recognize those specific, tragic deaths on their own to showcase that it’s still a huge problem. People are losing their lives simply for being who they are."

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In 2013, the Human Right's Campaign started collecting data on fatal violence against the transgender community. According to HRC's records, numbers have increased over the years, hitting it's highest violent fatality count of 37 people this year.

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