LGBTQ people, allies and others from around Northwest Arkansas will gather at the Fayetteville Town Center 6 p.m. Sunday to pay tribute to transgender people who have died from violence in 2019.

The Transgender Day of Remembrance Vigil, which is in its seventh year, is sponsored by the Transgender Equality Network (TEN) in partnership with NWA Equality, Moms Demand Action AR and NWA PFLAG. The vigil is an early observance of the Transgender Day of Remembrance, which is Nov. 20 each year.

Bellamy Brooks, a TEN board member and master of ceremonies for the vigil said the event will be an opportunity for people to mourn the loss and celebrate the lives of those who have died this year.

“This event is unfortunately an important event because we have to...remember the lives lost through violence,” Brooks said. “Unfortunately, in the U.S. it is mostly black trans women who have been killed or who have been a victim of gun violence, so this is really mostly to commemorate them, but we also talk about the people worldwide.”

At least 22 transgender and gender-non-comfoming Americans, 20 of whom were black transgender women, have lost their lives to violence so far in 2019, according to the Human Rights Campaign.

At Sunday’s event, organizers will list the names of transgender Americans who have been murdered or died by suicide this year, state how they died and where they are from and light a candle for each victim, Brooks said.

The name reading will be followed by a candlelit procession around the square and speeches from people who have been affected by anti-transgender violence, including the family of Aubrey Dameron. Dameron is an indigenous transgender woman from Grove, Oklahoma, who has been missing since March and is suspected to be dead. There will also be a memorial table where people can place mementos in remembrance of transgender loved ones they have lost.

Brooks encourages anyone and everyone in the NWA community to attend the event, she said.

“It’s more important to me that cis or straight people come to this than trans people, because trans people are very aware of this,” Brooks said. “And the point of things like this, on top of giving a venue for people to grieve...is also a way to spread awareness about this violence in the country.”

Sarah Komar is a staff reporter for The Arkansas Traveler.

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