On Friday November 19th of 2021, the Trans Empowerment Center made space to mourn the transgender lives lost at the hands of unacceptedness and hate towards our community. This took place at the Trans Chicago Empowerment Center also named The Lisa Isadora Cruz Center, who is one of the most iconic and powerful trail blazers within the transgender community.

Trans Chicago Empowerment Center is trans led and welcomes folks of trans experience to receive the wide variety of resources towards mental and behavioral health, and gender affirming processes. Xiemi Encarnacion one of the center’s HIV and Trans Health Educator and Facilitator testers and Trans Health educators created the vision for the altar along with Lisa I. Cruz, Jayla X. Padilla, and Diana Benitez-Perez. We built an altar and lit candles for our trans community. We shared impactful spoken word pieces, we expressed our emotions of what this day means to us and we welcomed members outside of the trans identity to write what Trans Day of Remembrance means to them. Lisa Isadora Cruz, coordinator of TRANS CHICAGO, shared a few words at the beginning of the activity, where she highlighted that “we also celebrate the lives of all transgender people who in one way or another have shown society that humanity has no race, creed, color and that we are an integral part of this world. We celebrate life, because for every crime committed against a brother or sister, we learn to value human quality, we learn that the lives of transgender people are important, as much as any other human being”.

On the other hand, the poetic talent of Vincent Gray, case manager of TRANS CHICAGO, also had space during the night, where he shared a poem of his authorship, and visibly nervous he conquered the applause of all those present.

The altar remains up for anyone seeking to pay their respects or add an offering. 

Trans Day of Remembrance is a reminder of the ignorance that still exists today. It is a reminder of the beautiful trans people that lived their truth and whose freedom was taken away. It’s a reminder that as of 2021, 49 people of trans experience are no longer with us. We do all this to honor their lives, and to remember the work towards trans liberation.

To the person of trans experience reading this, if you are in need of support or guidance, our center welcomes you. There is space here for you to breathe, to feel safe, and to live your truth. We hope to empower you. Our trans siblings may not be here with us today, but we honor their memory and remember that we too will live our truth.

To readers who are not of trans experience, let a trans person know that they are loved, respect our existence, and engage us to understand our community better. As an ally, know that your duty is to protect us, and speak out against the transphobia that continues to kill us. Finally, we encourage you to do your research and realize that Black trans women are being murdered at alarming rates. TransLivesMatter and BlackTransLivesMatter. 

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