SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) — November is Transgender Awareness Month and while it was first declared in San Francisco in 2018, trans advocates are marking 20 years since the beginning of a more somber event.
In 1999, the first Transgender Day of Remembrance was created to bring attention to the violence directed at transgender people. At least 22 trans people have been killed in the U.S. in 2019, and at 26 in 2018, according to the Human Rights Campaign.
During November, Transgender Awareness Month is a time to educate people in general about the trans community, their needs, and how their allies can help. Clair Farley is one of San Francisco’s biggest trans advocates.
“I was just getting out of high school and I remember I called the LGBT Center and I said, ‘Hey, this is what I’m thinking about doing, is there anyone else like me?’ And they’re, like, ‘Yes!'”
As a young trans woman from Missoula, Montana, Farley sought refuge in San Francisco like many other queer kids do.
“I came out as trans at 18. I really didn’t know – there was really no visibility around trans folks at the time,” said Farley. “And so I think really the lack of information, the lack of community, the lack of seeing myself reflected in the world was really difficult.”
Today, she is in a position to resolve that and works alongside Mayor London Breed as the Director of the Office of Trans Initiative, a position that no other trans person in the country has.
“We really need to make sure that our residents and community really know that regardless of what happens in Washington, that we continue to support them and stand up for them,” said Farley.
In this position since 2017, Farley has fought for trans housing, economic justice, and health care. She says being in her position is a huge opportunity, but also a huge responsibility, continuing to keep San Francisco on the cutting edge of human rights and protecting the trans community.
“So to then add this layer of violence on top of that, I want to use my privilege and opportunity to really raise light to the voices that are often not heard.”
Farley says trans women of color are the group most impacted by discrimination, poverty, and homelessness. All trans and gender non-conforming victims of violence are being honored Wednesday as part of Transgender Day of Remembrance.
“I think we need as many voices right now at the table to really call out what’s happening and really make sure that people understand that all lives have extreme value and that we can no longer continue to allow the violence that’s taking place.”
In San Francisco, the Transgender Day of Remembrance Candlelight Vigil is scheduled from 5:30 to 6 p.m. at City Hall. From there, people will march to UC Hastings College of the Law for a two-hour program followed by a reception.