Transgender Remembrance vigil in East Bay takes on new meaning following Colorado mass shooting

ByRyan Curry via KGO logo
Monday, November 21, 2022
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"We come out to live because it is so much better to be who you are. To live your true self. To live authentically. And so all of the discrimination, the hate speech, all of that, it really comes second to living."

CONCORD, Calif. (KGO) -- Dozens gathered at Todos Santos Plaza in Concord Sunday night for a vigil for Transgender Remembrance Day, organized by the Rainbow Community Center in Contra Costa County. Their goal was to honor transgender lives lost due to hate and discrimination.

"These are our family, friends, and loved ones. Their candles are snuffed out due to hate, violence, transphobia," said Robyn Cuslits, the center's Board President. "Every life lost due to hate, bigotry, violence is really a big loss for the whole community. And so it is so important to be able to come together, and grieve together, and share a community rather than being in isolation and being alone."

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They lit candles and read names of those who have died. The mood felt somber as they push towards a goal limiting the number of trans people who are killed or die by suicide.

"We come out to live because it is so much better to be who you are," Cuslits said. "To live your true self. To live authentically. And so all of the discrimination, the hate speech, all of that, it really comes second to living."

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Following the mass shooting at an LGBTQ+ nightclub in Colorado Springs, Sunday night's vigil took on another meaning. They want all the violence to stop.

"Last night I almost went to a nightclub," said Kiku Johnson, Executive Director for the Rainbow Center. "I think about how often I have to be concerned with who is next to me. Who is watching me get out of a vehicle."

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Many are calling on people to become educated on the struggles surrounding the Transgender and LGBTQ community. They say the more aware people are, the less likely they will inflict harm.

"The progress that needs to happen is just awareness and education," Johnson said. "That is what prevents this. When people can feel that they connect with who they are, and who the community is."

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