More than 100 people gathered at the Interfaith Peace Chapel Monday evening, Nov. 20, to commemorate 2017 Transgender Day of Remembrance.

Between reading the names and circumstances of the deaths of trans people murdered over the past year, several trans people and family members told their stories. What the murders have in common is their brutality — stabbings, multiple gun shots, decapitations, being burned alive.

Marcy Sutton, mother of Gwynevere River Song, a trans woman murdered in Waxahachie earlier this year, said it’s not just trans people who lose their families when they come out or transition; supportive family members also lose their families.

“I’m here because I need a family,” Sutton said. As she came off the stage she was surrounded by people hugging her.

Pam Curry gave a brief history of TDOR in Dallas. She recalled approaching the Rev. Mona West in 2002 when West was a Cathedral of Hope pastor, and together they organized the first commemoration in Dallas.

Rachel Gonzales, who calls herself a mama bear, is a member of the largest group of mama bears and papa bears in the U.S. She has a seven-year-old trans daughter, and she thanked the trans community gathered for the service for making her daughter’s life easier.

“My daughter’s life will be better and safer because you’re paving the way,” Gonzalez said.

Although the evening wasn’t a celebration, but instead a sad remembrance of the largest number of transgender people murdered in one year, several people noted after the ceremony that in an historic election earlier this month, seven trans people were elected to public offices around the country.

After the ceremony at the Peace Chapel, a group headed to the Legacy of Love monument on Cedar Springs Road for a candlelight vigil and to read the names of the murdered again.

— David Taffet