Annual Transgender Day of Remembrance Vigil Includes Honoring Local Victims
For Immediate Release
Indiana Transgender Rights Advocacy Alliance (INTRAA)
Indianapolis (11/11/03) Reported violent murders of those perceived as transgendered are on the rise and continue at a rate of over one death per month in the United States (17), with murders outside the US approaching two deaths per month (20). Two of the 17 murders recognized in the US this year occurred in Indianapolis.
To raise awareness about violence against transgendered people, the Indiana Transgender Rights Advocacy Alliance (INTRAA), the Community Activist Network Developed by Youth (CANDY), and members of the Indiana Youth Group are co-sponsoring a candlelight vigil to be held in conjunction with the 5th Annual Transgender Day of Remembrance, an event observed around the world in over 90 locations in eight countries.
The Indianapolis candlelight vigil will be held on Sunday, November 16, at 4:30 P.M. outside the Firefighters Hall on Massachusetts Avenue (across from The Abbey) in downtown Indianapolis.
There have been 37 reported anti-transgender murders since the vigil held in Indianapolis in November 2002. It is likely that the actual rate of murder motivated by anti-transgender bias in the US and elsewhere is much higher than the reported rate suggests. Under-reporting of such incidents is common due to intentional cover-ups as to motive by those involved, the inability of investigators to recognize anti-transgender motives (sometimes reported as motivated by sexual orientation), the lack of reporting requirements under current US hate crime laws to recognize and report suspected hate crimes based on anti-transgender bias, and the lack of information about the particular victims or perpetrators involved.
The vigil will honor and remember the following Indianapolis residents who were murdered as a direct result of anti-transgender bias:
Nireah (Gregory) Johnson, a 17-year-old African-American transwoman and Indianapolis resident, was known for being sweet and funny. On July 23, 2003, she and life-long friend, 18-year-old Brandie Coleman, were shot in the head while sitting in an SUV, which was then set on fire. Their bodies were burned beyond recognition. Paul Anthony Moore has been arrested in connection with the incident. Moore faces two preliminary counts of murder. A second person, Curtis L. Ward, has been arrested as a possible accomplice. Each teen leaves behind grieving family members and church communities. Coleman also leaves behind a two-month-old daughter.
Kiki (Kelvin) May, a drag performer who lived and worked in the downtown area. As she was returning home from her job one evening, she was brutally attacked by two individuals who robbed her, beat her around the head and shoulders, then left her to die on the steps of her apartment building. She was taken to Wishard Hospital where she was kept in a medically-induced coma due to the severity of her injuries. She died a few days later.
The Transgender Day of Remembrance is held each November on the anniversary of the death of Rita Hester, a transwoman who was murdered in New York City in 1998. Hesters death inspired the "Remembering Our Dead" web project http://www.rememberingourdead.org and the first Transgender Day of Remembrance Vigil held in San Francisco in 1999.