From left to right: activist Jasmine Anderson-Brownlee, councilwoman LeVette Fuller, and activist Michael Chisum during the presentation of the TDOR resolution.

The Shreveport City Council has voted unanimously to mark November 20th as Transgender Day of Remembrance.

The council, through a resolution introduced by councilwoman LeVette Fuller, resolved to honor the memory of the transgender people whose lives were taken by acts of anti-transgender violence. It is also meant to create a platform for transgender communities and allies to raise awareness of the threat of violence that is faced by gender variant people as well as to recognize the persistence of prejudice felt by the transgender community.

The resolution lists the names of six victims of transgender violence including Rita Hester, who’s unsolved murder in Boston on November 28, 1998 sparked the creation of International Transgender Day of Remembrance.

The council also named five Shreveport transgender people who have been murdered in recent years.

Valerie or Ms. Val McKinney (50), a transgender black woman murdered July 12, 2013.

Terry Golston (44), transgender black woman murdered September 6, 2013.

Freddy Henderson (23), a transgender black woman murdered September 11, 2013.

Vontashia Bell (18), a transgender black woman murdered August 30, 2018.

Brooklyn DeShauna Smith (32), a transgender black woman murdered October 7, 2020.

All but one murder (Terry Golston’s) remain unsolved.

Jasmine Anderson-Brownlee, a local transgender rights activist, spoke after the passage of the resolution.

“Transgender Day of Remembrance is set aside to memorialize those who were killed due to anti-transgender hatred, prejudice, and violence,” she said. “Transgender Day of Remembrance serves to raise public awareness of hate crimes against transgender people as well as to publicly mourn and honor the lives of our community members who might otherwise be forgotten.”

Shreveport activist Michael Chisum also spoke.

“In 2013, Shreveport passed the fairness ordinance which signaled not just to America, not just to the state, but to every LGBT person, especially trans, especially black trans people in our community that we believe that every single citizen deserves to be treated fairly and with equality in this city,” Chisum said. “We led the way. Today is another opportunity, and you took it.”

Councilwoman Fuller, who introduced the resolution, gave thanks to Jasmine and Michael for their ongoing efforts to raise awareness of issues that affect transgender people.

“To both of you, thank you for your activism and your bravery and thank you for teaching me and many other allies how to be the best allies we can be. Thank you.” Fuller said.

John Nickelson, invoked his faith’s teachings about members of the LGBT community as part of his reason for supporting the resolution, “They must be accepted with respect, compassion, and sensitivity and that every sign of unjust discrimination should be avoided. I think we have turned the page on the time in history when [LGBT rights] is not recognized as not true for all persons.”

Fatal violence disproportionately affects transgender women of color. Ninety-one percent of all anti-transgender homicides in 2019 were women of color, 68% of which were in the South. According to the Human Rights Campaign (HRC), in 2019, at least 25 deaths of transgender or gender non-conforming people in the United States due to fatal violence. The majority of the victims were black transgender women.

To learn more about International Transgender Day of Remembrance, visit https://www.glaad.org/tdor