A local LGBT health and wellness organization will host a vigil at William Way LGBT Community Center this weekend to remember and celebrate the lives of seven transgender women who were murdered in the country this year.
The Candlelight Vigil for Lives of Trans Women Lost to Violence is being organized through Mazzoni Center’s Sisterly L.O.V.E. (Leading Others Via Education) program.
Celena Morrison, Mazzoni community-engagement Specialist, noted a personal connection when organizing the March 24 event.
“I’ve been a victim of an attack and even planning this type of event was a little triggering for me,” Morrison said. “So I had those tough moments where I had to take a moment and take a walk outside because, in order to do this, I need to read about each one of those murders and I could really relate on so many levels because — not one or two of those situations — but several of those situations, I have actually found myself in or I know someone who has been in that situation. Although none of these murders happened within Philadelphia, it was really triggering. It really hit home. It makes it so much more real because I made it out and I very easily could have been one of those victims.”
The event will include guest speakers Morrison described as “fresh voices." Tatianna Carter, Sharron Cooks and Milan Sherry will be on hand to speak while singer Minister Kandee Love will perform.
Additionally, Morrison said there will be resources available for community members to get information on where to donate and support the transgender community on national and local levels. Morrison also noted service providers will be in attendance.
“There will be some social workers there,” Morrison said. “So if people are having a hard time during this event, we will have some people on hand who are equipped and well-versed in dealing with these types of things.”
The event was initially supposed to be held at the Leeway Foundation on March 17 but with the large response from the community, it ended up being rescheduled and moved to a new location.
“I really planned on a small, intimate community event that was maybe 30 people, 40 at the very most, and it went beyond my expectations,” Morrison said.
Morrison said she was initially unaware of the high number of trans murders already this year, due to reports falling “under the radar.”
“This is important to bring to light that things have not slowed down as far as attacks on trans-identified folks are concerned,” Morrison said. “Things have not gotten better. I think it’s important for people to look at how difficult [life for] the trans community has become and how that’s played a part in the amount of attacks and the increase on the amount of attacks.”
The Candlelight Vigil for Lives of Trans Women Lost to Violence will take place 5:30 p.m. March 24 at the William Way LGBT Community Center, 1315 Spruce St.