Never Forgetting

Transgender Day of Remembrance reminds D.C. residents of cold cases, murders

by Yusef Najafi
Published on November 15, 2007, 12:00am | Comments

It's been nearly two years since Elexuis Woodland, a transgender woman, was shot to death during a robbery in Southeast. The case is still under investigation by the Metropolitan Police Department's Violent Crimes Branch, and the killer is still on the loose.

Cases like Woodland's have become a common occurrence in Washington and surrounding cities says Brian Watson, director of programs at Transgender Health Empowerment (THE), a drop-in center in Northeast.

To commemorate the ninth annual Transgender Day of Remembrance on Tuesday, Nov. 20, organizers from THE are joining forces with Whitman-Walker Clinic to present a candlelight vigil, in which the names of victims are called out, at the clinic's 1407 S Street NW site from 6 to 7:30 p.m.

''The main purpose of the Transgender Day of Remembrance is to remember those who suffered violent attacks and who have been murdered,'' Watson says.

They include Stephanie Thomas, a 19-year-old transgender person who was murdered with her friend Ukea Davis, 18, while in a vehicle in Southeast, and others.

''Recently there's been a lot of hate crimes going on, not just in D.C., but nationally, and a lot of times the transgender community is left on the backburner,'' Watson adds. ''A lot of people don't remember transgender people who are victims of violence and are murdered each year. Setting aside a day to remember those and to honor their lives and their memories is very important, because they are a part of the gay community.''

While final details of the event were unavailable before Metro Weekly deadline, including a list of speakers at the event, Earline Budd, THE's drop-in center coordinator, says the vigil will take on a similar format as previous years with an emphasis on cases that have not been closed.

''It's something that allows us to bring forth and highlight those that have died from vicious attacks and also to recognize these cases in the D.C. that have gone unresolved,'' she says.

Watson says fliers will be handed out during the vigil to raise awareness about suspects who are still out there.

''Not only do we try to call out and honor the people who have been lost, but we also bring out fliers of suspects for some of the murders...because so many times transgender murders go unsolved. So it's important to keep the awareness out there. We have to bring the people who committed these crimes to justice.''

The ninth annual Transgender Day of Remembrance is schedule for 6-7:30 p.m., at Whitman-Walker Clinic, 1407 S St., NW. For more information, call Transgender Health Empowerment, 202-636-1646.