By Ben Briscoe – Staff Writer

Trans pastor hopes Day of Remembrance prompts more advocacy for rights, protections

The Rev. David Wynn

Simone Walton was killed for being a transgender person right here in Dallas.

In December of 2005, the 40-year-old was shot to death in Oak Cliff. She is not alone.

The Remembering Our Dead Web Project estimates that two people a month, on average are killed in violence against transgender people. Transgender pastor David Wynn of Agape Metropolitan Community Church in Fort Worth wants to do something about it.

"My emotions in a situation like this run the gamut. I feel profoundly sad that those folks have lost their lives simply trying to be who they are. And then I also feel very angry that someone felt like they had the right to hurt somebody simply because they are surprised by who they were," Wynn said.

That’s why he’s helping to organize a local ceremony to commemorate the 10th annual Transgender Day of Remembrance.

Since 1988, each Nov. 20 has been set aside to memorialize those who were murdered due to anti-transgender hate, such as Walton. This year Wynn’s church will be teaming up with Trinity MCC of Arlington and the Sexuality Education Center to hold a candlelight service.

The event will be at Agape MCC, 4615 California Pkwy. in Fort Worth at 7 p.m. on Nov. 20.

Curtis Smith, pastor of Trinity MCC, says the event is not only about remembering, but also about raising awareness.

"We think transgender folks are sometimes swept under the carpet and ignored. We also realize that sometimes that is what happened with these victims because little was said and little was known, [so this is about advocacy as much as about remembering]," Smith said.

Wynn says this awareness comes from putting a face with the names of victims.

"I hope people take away from the service putting a human heart and face and life with that label of transgender. I hope they know we are not talking about a category of strange and unknown to us but we are talking about real humans. I think that’s why a lot of violence happens," Wynn said.

And Wynn hopes this awareness will lead to change.

"It hopefully will prompt people to get more active with the transgender community and help be a part of the solution," Wynn said.

The best way to be part of the solution according to Wynn is to be open about your own gender identity.

"I think so often what happens is that people don’t have people that they know who are transgender so they are coming purely from a place of fear and thinking this is so strange," he said.

There will also be a remembrance ceremony in Dallas hosted by Out & Equal DFW, Gender Advocacy and Education Resource, the Resource Center of Dallas, and the Southern Methodist University Women’s Center for Gender and Pride Initiatives. The group will meet at the Hughes-Trigg Student Center on the SMU campus on Nov. 20 at 6:30 p.m.


This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition November 14, 2008.
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