Spokane remembers trans lives lost in 2022


Spokane remembers trans lives lost in 2022

This story was made possible by contributions to FāVS from readers like you. Thanks.

News Annemarie Frohnhoefer

Members of Spokane’s trans community read 33 names aloud at the Spokane Central Library as part of a Transgender Memorial Day vigil Nov. 19.

The event was organized by Odyssey Youth Movement, Spectrum and the Spokane Public Library and featured speakers as well as resources for the trans community. More than 80 people gathered in the nxʷyxʷyetkʷ hall to commemorate local and national trans people whose lives have ended due to violence and societal pressures.

Katie Thew, 22, was an alumna of Odyssey Youth Movement, a safe space for LGBTQIA+ youth located in the Perry District on the lower South Hill in Spokane. Thew graduated from St. George’s and studied psychology at the University of Redlands in California before taking his own life in early October.

Judge Sun, an advocate for homeless youth, spent time homeless on the streets of Spokane and was in the child welfare system. They planned to become lawyers and continue their fight for fairness in courtrooms and in policy-making.

In March 2020, Sun wrote, “My biggest advocacy driver has been to improve the quality of services for system-dependent youth and families. My long term goal is to become a lawyer… I work as a consultant today because I can’t wait to get my JD in law school to advocate for youth and young adults – like TeamChild did for me.

Their lives also came to an end this year.

Thew and Sun were recalled alongside others from beyond the Spokane area. Many of those remembered were disproportionately BIPOC. Speaker Nanette Josephine Cloud reminded those in attendance that people at the intersection of race and gender are often targets of hate.

Chandler Wheeler, communications coordinator for Odyssey Youth Movement and master of ceremonies for the event, quoted the Human Rights Campaign Foundation as saying, “The intersections of racism, sexism, homophobia, biphobia, transphobia and uncontrolled access to firearms conspire to deprive [trans BIPOC] employment, housing, health care and other necessities.

Cloud said organizations and places that hoist signs with phrases such as “We’re all human here” aren’t always inclusive of trans people, including LGBTQIA+ spaces. They encouraged more organizations and spaces to “include and respect us” and not speak on behalf of trans people. True to this promise, the organizations that hosted Trans Day Remembrance were primarily led by trans people and all of the speakers were trans.

Luke Grayson read a personal statement that embraced the experience of grief, not only the grief of those lost through violence, but also the grief that so many trans people feel when they are misunderstood or alienated from their families. He also spoke of his own mother’s grief over the loss of her expectations; expectations that included white wedding dresses and biological grandchildren.

Ash Montenegro-Hart wrote a poem that resonated with their indigenous Mexican American heritage and worldview. They read aloud:

Because this body, this spirit, is nothing new.

I’ve been around for centuries

and will be there for many more.

They passed the mic to Gus Dinsmore who spoke of their grief for those who can’t be themselves. Dinsmore offered words of encouragement and support to the audience, saying they had “faith in what is good…and I believe in good.”

Artemis Meadows has shared the words a now deceased friend once offered her. “Don’t live your life for someone else’s dreams,” she told the rally, offering a sense of escape from the tension some trans people feel when they don’t live up to expectations. their relatives.

Fig DePaolo addressed issues of faith and self-reliance in a poem. They read: “God, it’s good to suppose you on bridges and under them / my life’s work to understand you.”

Understanding Faith and Space

The Reverend Bob Feeny of the Westminster Congregational Church of Christ in downtown Spokane sees his job as determining “what the queer and trans experience tells us about God’s creation,” he said.

Westminster held a vigil on Sunday evening for Transgender Day of Remembrance.

Candles lit at Westminster UCC for Trans Remembrance Day / Luke Grayson – SpokaneFāVS

Feeny went on to explain that “all of creation bears the image of God” and that the queer experience can show cisgender individuals like himself other ways of being, of communing, and of living within the framework of creation. God.

Feeny acknowledges that not all trans people have had positive experiences with organized religions or other forms of spirituality. He discovered that trans people come to church to seek meaning beyond everyday material concerns. Feeny believes LGBTQIA+ people come to church to explore answers to what theologians call the “ultimate concern.”

Feeny explained that investigating deep concerns requires sanctuary, a place of refuge and safety. Yet trans people report entering places of worship with trauma only to find themselves traumatized again. They could be welcomed into churches or congregations, but would later be told they cannot serve in ministry or councils, he said. Feeny said that was not the case at Westminster. Westminster is part of ONA, the Open and Affirmed Coalition of the United Church of Christ. Westminster Church displays pride flags as part of what their website calls “an extravagant welcome”.

However, trans people like Cloud are sometimes skeptical when organizations claim openness and inclusion. Cloud turns the idea of ​​inclusion upside down when they say, “You are lucky to be included by us.

She went on to say how open the trans community is to cisgender people. She continued to change her perspective when she said that trans people “are sacred and deserve to be worshiped by giving them existence.”

Less than 24 hours after Spokane’s Transgender Day of Remembrance, a violent attack occurred at Club Q, an LGBTQIA+ nightclub in Colorado Springs. In light of this violence, Cloud’s last words to those attending the event are a necessary call to action and strong encouragement.

“Create a haven. Provide opportunities. Everything you do is valuable,” she said.

Trans Life Line (877) 565-8860 is a resource for anyone who needs to be connected.

This story was made possible by contributions to FāVS from readers like you. Thanks.

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