Transgender Day of Remembrance

On the evening of Nov. 28, 1998, a transgender woman named Rita Hester was violently stabbed in her apartment. She was found clinging to life, but died a few minutes later from cardiac arrest as she arrived at the hospital. She was two days shy of her 35th birthday. Her murder (or murderers) is still at large.

A year later, advocate and writer Gwendolyn Ann Smith coordinated a vigil in her honor. The commemoration remembered not only Rita, but all who were tragically lost to anti-transgender violence. The act launched the Transgender Day of Remembrance website to recognize and remember those whose lives were cut short.


Twenty-three years after Rita’s death, violence against transgender people is still too common an occurrence. Unfortunately, the black and brown trans community is more commonly targeted. It must not be ignored. On Transgender Day of Remembrance (TDOR), Emanuel Congregation will honor the memory of the 34 trans and gender non-conforming individuals who lost their lives to transphobic violence in 2020, as well as all the TGNC community members we have lost this year. Please join me in remember the four women who lost their lives in Cook County this year:

  • Tyianna Alexander, also known as Davarea Alexander, a 28-year-old Black transgender woman who was fatally shot on Jan. 6, 2021, in Chicago

  • Tiara Banks, a 24-year-old Black transgender woman who was fatally shot on April 21 in Chicago

  • Disaya Monaee, a 32-year-old Black transgender woman who was fatally shot on Sept. 6 in Dolton

  • Briana Hamilton, a 25-year-old Black transgender woman who was fatally shot on Sept. 17 in Chicago.

We do best to honor their memories by supporting the trans community. You may wish to support an organization such as the Brave Space Alliance (www.bravespacealliance.org) that provides the resources and skills needed to ensure trans people can create a life of their choosing.


The names of Tyianna, Tiara, Disaya and Briana will be read at Shabbat services on November 19 and 20, 2021.


Shelly Drucker Friedman

Congregational Cantor

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