Transgender Day of Remembrance was founded in 1999 by Gwendolyn Ann Smith, a transgender activist and columnist for the Bay Area Reporter, to recognize the murder of transgender woman Rita Hester on November 28, 1998 in Allston, Massachusetts. For many in the LGBTQ+ community, Rita’s murder exposed the lack of media coverage and particularly, culturally sensitive and respectful media coverage that takes place when transgender members of our community lose their lives to violent hate crimes. The communal anger and grief that was experienced led to a candlelight vigil that was attended by 250 participants. Eighteen years later, Transgender Day of Remembrance events occur on a national and international basis on November 20th each year, and often include a candlelight procession or vigil within the program.
On November 16th, 2017, San Mateo County Pride Center held San Mateo County’s second annual Transgender Day of Remembrance event. Transgender Day of Remembrance serves multiple purposes– this is a day for folks to come together and publicly mourn the lives of transgender siblings whose lives have been taken from us in brutal acts of violence and hatred, and a day for us to find strength within each other to mobilize and combat the violence our transgender community disproportionally faces. Transgender Day of Remembrance in San Mateo County included community speakers Alyss Swanson, Lexi Shimmers and Dr. Jei Africa, along with altars commemorating the lives of transgender siblings lost in 2016 and 2017, followed by a silent candlelight procession down El Camino Real to Central Park in San Mateo. During the procession, 25 participants traded their candles for signs that were each hand-painted by community members the afternoon prior with the names and ages of the lives we’ve lost in 2017. You can view the memorial we created for 2017 in the slideshow on this blog.
BHRS Mental Health Program Specialist, Betty Ortiz-Gallardo, and Health System Emergency Preparedness Manager, Shruti Dhapodkar, recently sat down with Pen Voice to discuss San Mateo County’s response to the North Bay Wildfires and the county’s own emergency preparedness program. Check out the video above for more.
Remembrance and Resilience in the Transgender Community
On July 16, The San Mateo County Pride Center hosted a Transgender Day of Remembrance vigil to honor the 25 people whose lives were taken by anti-transgender violence, in this year alone. Statistics show that transgender people also face higher rates of suicidal ideation, homelessness, substance abuse, isolation, discrimination, job insecurity and violence.
“We’re not just mourning the lives that have been lost, but really coming together and saying, ‘we are a resilient community,'” said ODE director, Jei Africa. Check out this article in The San Mateo Daily Journal for more.
This November, the Office of Diversity and Equity celebrates Native American Heritage Month (NAHM).
With Thanksgiving, a holiday known to be controversial for Native American history, just around the corner, visibility of Native Americans during this month is particularly important. NAHM recognizes the contributions that native peoples have made for our community. It is a time to celebrate the diverse cultures, traditions, and histories of our local tribes and also educate ourselves about the challenges Native people have faced and currently face, including health disparities.
These are the names of the 25 transgender people whose murders have been reported, here in the United States in 2017 alone. Today, on the Transgender Day of Remembrance, we remember and celebrate the lives of those who have been taken from us due to anti-transgender violence.
Last Thursday, November 16, the San Mateo County Pride Center held a candlelight vigil to commemorate the trans lives lost this year. Today from 6 to 8 p.m. the Pride Center will be hosting “What’s the T?” a dialogue series that will act as a starting point for local action around the issues that our transgender and gender nonconforming neighbors are facing.
Check out this Wellness Matters article for more on the Transgender Day of Remembrance, and how the San Mateo County Pride Center is offering support and inspiring change in the transgender and gender nonconforming community.
This week, The San Mateo Daily Journal published an article on November 13 about former BHRS Director Steve Kaplan’s career in the behavioral health community. Read about Steve’s thoughts on medicated assistant treatment, the unaffordability of housing for those in recovery and Medi-Cal funding finally being authorized for substance use treatment programs in the full article.
For the last 5 years the Office of Diversity and Equity’s Latino Collaborative has put together the Annual Latino Health Forum, “Sana, Sana Colita de Rana” to provide an opportunity for Latino families to come together to learn strategies for emotional and physical well-being.
But what does the phrase “Sana, Sana Colita de Rana” mean?
When translated literally it means “heal, heal, little frog’s tail.” This expression is commonly used in many Latino communities to offer consolation when one, specifically a child, has fallen or gotten hurt. The phrase continues with “if you don’t heal today, you will heal tomorrow.” At its core this message is meant to offer relentless encouragement, that while we may be suffering today, things will get better tomorrow.