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.
Last week several local nonprofits providing substance use services received a boost when county supervisors approved millions of dollars in reimbursements available due to the affordable care act. San Mateo County is one of the first in California to pull federal funds for local providers. The county approved funds from the Drug Medi-Cal Orgranized Delivery System for programs like StarVista, Our Common Ground and Project 90.
Check out this article The San Mateo Daily Journal published on November 3 for more, including thoughtful insight from health services manager, Clara Boyden.
In raising awareness around suicide prevention and celebrating recovery, our community sent a strong message this September: suicide is preventable and recovery is possible.
One of the most important things we did this September – and will continue to do all year long – is amplify the voices of those who have worked hard to overcome their behavioral health challenges. In sharing these stories, we embolden others to seek recovery as well. Read more
NAMI SMC is introducing a new peer support program called Peer Pals. A Peer PAL is someone who is doing well in his or her recovery, and wants to share their friendship and support with a peer who is also experiencing mental illness. Peer PALS receive monthly training in recovery and mentorship and are compensated for their time.
The program is free to clients who wish to be paired with a Peer PAL who can help them on their own journey to recovery. For more information on the program and how to apply, see the Peer PALS brochure.
Recovery Month is every September, but here in San Mateo County, we celebrate recovery all year round. Learn more about how you can support recovery in our community every day.
Check out the stats below on substance use and substance use treatment in the U.S. and be sure to share with your friends and family. Spreading this kind of information can help end stigma in our community.