Chicago's participation in the annual national Transgender Day of Remembrances was marked by a protest-within-a-protest as youth activists noted their concern that the event was being staged inside a gay bar—where those under age 21 could not participate.
Illinois Gender Advocates sponsored the candlelight vigil, one of an estimated 150 cities hosting events to mark the murder of transgender and gender-variant people throughout the world. The Nov. 20 event was held downtown last year, but organizers hoped to bring the event in 2004 into the heavily gay Lakeview area, so Sidetrack bar agreed to host.
When youth activists handed out paper noting that 'It's a very sad day and we should be together, don't you think?' organizers agreed to find a compromise. Because of city ordinances, the bar could not place audio speakers on the sidewalks. So the people speaking were moved to the outside courtyard, and those inside could hear over the sound system. Those outside had a harder time hearing, but were more part of the event.
The national tribute was organized by Gender Advocacy and Education. 'On Nov. 20, we hold in our hearts and in our thoughts our brothers and sisters who have fallen victim to anti-transgender hate,' said Matt Foreman, National Gay and Lesbian Task Force executive director.
Illinois Gender Advocates noted that 13 Americans were murdered since last November due to gender expression—12 were transgendered individuals and one was a 17-year-old male, Darryl Fearon, who intervened when a trans woman was attacked in New York. Worldwide, at least 21 transgender people are known to have been murdered in the last year.
Speakers at the Chicago event included mayor's LGBT liaison Bill Greaves, Rick Garcia of Equality Illinois, and Center on Halsted Anti-Violence Project Manager Lisa Tonna.