Harrisburg celebrates Transgender Day of Remembrance, calls for legislative action

 A transgender flag at City Hall in Philadelphia welcomed the recent Trans Health Conference. (Emma Lee/WHYY)

A transgender flag at City Hall in Philadelphia welcomed the recent Trans Health Conference. (Emma Lee/WHYY)

Every year on Nov. 20, people across the country gather for the Transgender Day of Remembrance.

It’s a time to honor the trans people killed every year — often during hate crimes.

In Pennsylvania, it’s also an opportunity for the community to call state lawmakers to action.

Since last November, 25 transgender people — mostly women of color — have been killed around the country. Dozens in Harrisburg braved the cold to gather on the steps of the state Capitol Tuesday and read their names.

Joanne Carroll, the president of TransCentral PA, said she hates the fact that such a ceremony is necessary.

But, she added, it’s important that people know how dangerous the world can be for transgender people.

“Basically, it boils down to transphobia,” she said. “People just don’t happen to like people who are transgender for some reason. They think we have horns and tails. They just don’t know us well, I guess.”

These crimes can be extraordinarily brutal.

“In many cases, it wasn’t that they were just shot or stabbed — they were given a number of injuries, like someone really wanted to make sure they were dead,” she said.

Just this summer, Pennsylvania’s Human Relations Commission expanded its anti-discrimination laws to include LGBTQ people.

But the commonwealth’s hate crime laws don’t include sexual orientation or gender identity — something the transgender community and the rest of the LQBTQ community have advocated for years.

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