Trans Day of Remembrance vigil held in downtown Springfield

The candlelit procession during the Trans Day of Remembrance vigil in Springfield on Sunday, Nov. 20. Photos by Tom Wray

Springfield’s downtown was the site of a Transgender Day of Remembrance on Sunday, Nov. 20, less than a day after the Club Q shooting in Colorado.

More than 50 people came out in cold and windy weather outside OUT on Adams to honor those lost to anti-trans violence over the past year. Along with a few speakers, members of the Springfield community read the names of trans people who had died.

Kate Schwartz was among those reading out the names. “Being transgender myself, I’m of course aware on a daily basis of the safety issues and concerns facing everybody,” she said. “I also facilitate the transgender support group at the Phoenix Center, and I hear about the struggles of everybody that attends that.”

Schwartz said the news of Colorado didn’t actually make this year’s vigil harder. “It was just like, “yeah, here we go again,’ ” she said.

Caitlin Austin of Springfield came out to remember her trans brothers and sisters who were no longer with us. The Colorado attack did make her nervous, “but it wasn’t going to stop me from coming out to memorializing the people we have lost.”

Samuel McAuliff read a poem at the beginning of the vigil. He said the news reinforced the fact that the LGBTQ community still had a lot of work to do.

His message to the larger community was simple. “Protect us,” he said. “Keep us in mind when you’re voting. And stop killing us.”

The vigil was hosted by the Phoenix Center, the city’s LGBTQ community center. Executive Director Jonna Cooley said the news definitely had an impact.

“I think it had an impact in that any time you hear about tragedy in relationship to what we’re already doing, it just kind of compounds it,” she said.

She called on the larger community to get educated and get to know members of the LGBTQ community, be supportive and open minded.

After the reading of names and speakers, those attending made a candlelit procession around the Old State Capitol.