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Friday, June 14, 2024

About 40 people gathered Thursday night to memorialize the lives of 226 transgender individuals lost to hate crimes in the past year, including a 4-year-old.

People presented poetry, songs and stories about their own experiences during the local observation of International Transgender Day of Remembrance. 

At the United Church of Gainesville event, residents expressed the need for change.

“We are gathered here together to create the honor and to celebrate our fallen trans sisters and brothers,” said speaker Joani McBride, “and I hope to commit to change the dynamic that underlies this horrid, horrid violence.”

At the door, residents received a slip of paper with the the name and age of an individual who died, later reading them aloud.

Some people hesitated before reading the ages. From the back of the room someone muttered, “Jesus, just 14.”

The youngest victim was a 4-year-old who McBride said was murdered by her mother and her mother’s boyfriend after the child self-identified as a different gender.

“It’s a sad event because we’re remembering and honoring the people who had died at the hands of transphobia,” said associate minister Vince Amlin. “It’s a somber event, but it’s powerful and it needs to be heard.”

Three speakers shared their own stories of transformation including Kane Barr, who read two of his poems. He said he used poetry to cope with being transgender and feeling like he didn’t have an outlet or voice.

In one poem, he talked about telling his mom he was no longer the female twin daughter, but he was a male twin daughter. Another poem dealt with his feelings about himself and his physical appearance.

The Pride Community Center of North Central Florida sponsored the event, and both the UF Pride Student Union and the Alachua County Library District hosted events observing the remembrance day.

[A version of this story ran on page 10 on 11/21/2014]

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