Transgender Day of Remembrance: Let’s Do More Than Just Say Their Names

Learn about the lives, the passions and the dreams of those we have lost this year.

With at least 26 murders so far, 2016 is officially the deadliest year on record for America’s transgender community.

The majority of those we lost were trans women of color, a group that faces a greater risk of death by hate violence than any other, according to the National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs.

An Indian transgender activist holds a candle at a vigil to mark the 'Transgender Day of Remembrance' in Hyderabad on November 20, 2015. The Transgender Day of Remembrance is marked worldwide to remember members of the transgender community who have been murdered, and to raise awareness of the threat of violence and persistence of prejudice felt by the transgender community. AFP PHOTO /NOAH SEELAM        (Photo credit should read NOAH SEELAM/AFP/Getty Images)

Throughout the day on November 20, Transgender Day of Remembrance, Logo will share these names on the air. Below, we pay respect to these individuals, celebrating who they were in life, not just death, and acknowledging the loss felt by their loved ones.

Because many states don’t include gender identity in hate-crime data—and trans victims are often mis-gendered—it’s difficult to get an accurate picture of this epidemic. There are doubtless others whose fates are still unknown, and we honor and grieve for them, as well.
 

Monica Loera, 43

Hometown: Austin, Texas
Killed: January 22, 2016
Monica enjoyed cooking and loved listening to Madonna. “She was very warm and friendly,” Monica’s friend Diedre told the Austin American-Statesman.

“[She] just she had this way about her. She was vivacious. She’d really just extend warmth to people.”

Another friend recalled how funny Monica was: “She has this way of impersonating people—she’d just make you laugh so much.”

Jasmine Sierra

Hometown: Bakersfield, California
Killed: January 22, 2016
On Jasmine’s memorial page, her friend John wrote, “Jasmine, you were a lovely and generous friend who I will greatly miss… RIP my beautiful friend.”

Kayden Clarke, 24

Hometown: Arizona
Killed: February 4, 2016

In 2014, Kayden made a video that went viral about how his service dog, Samson, helped him through difficult moments related to his Asperger’s syndrome.

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He later posted another heartfelt video expressing his excitement that his insurance company would pay for his gender confirmation surgery.
 

 
Kayden’s mother told the New York Daily News that hewas very caring and would have given someone he’d just met the shirt off his back.

Nino Acox Jackson, 26

Hometown: Robbins, Illinois
Killed: February 16, 2016

Nino lived in Dallas, where he was a passionate advocate for trans equality. His Facebook page reveals a love for fast cars, Japanese anime and ’90s Nickelodeon cartoons like Rugrats.

Veronica Banks Cano, mid 30s

Hometown: Pleasanton, Texas
Killed: February 19, 2016

Veronica lived in San Antonio and worked as a certified nurse’s assistant at a nursing home in nearby Pleasanton. Her friend Joe told Out In San Antonio she was “loved and accepted by many in our small community.”

In a tribute on Facebook, Mendez wrote, “What can I say… you were true to yourself, never a dull moment. Putting on your makeup and modeling your outfits. That’s how I’ll remember you.”

Maya Young, 25

Hometown: Vineland, New Jersey
Killed: February 21, 2016

Maya stood out in a crowd with her beautifully unique birthmark: The left half of her face was distinctively lighter than the right. “She looked like chocolate and caramel,” longtime friend and former roommate Anthony Harper told Philly.com, adding that he used to call her “Twix” because “she was sweet, like candy.”

Harper also described Maya as funny and outgoing: “She loved people and she loved being around people,” he said. “She was a dreamer.”

Demarkis Stansberry, 30

Hometown: Baton Rouge, Louisiana
Killed: February 27, 2016

Demarkis studied at Baton Rouge Community College and rapped under the name “Righzous.”

“So easy to just remember his murder,” tweeted queer writer Mitch Kellaway. “He was more. He was a man who worked 2 jobs, loved his fiancée, his dog, & rapping.”

Kedarie Johnson, 16

Hometown: Chicago, Illinois
Killed: March 2, 2016

Kedarie—who also went by Kandicee—is the youngest person on our list and identified as both trans and gender-fluid, using both male and female pronouns.

Kedarie’s family had moved from Chicago to the small town of Burlington, Iowa, to escape the rising crime rate.

“He had this beautiful smile,” Shaunda Campbell, a counselor at Kedarie’s high school told the Des Moines Register, “and you never caught him down or feeling any kind of way except happy. There wasn’t a mean bone in his body.”

Kedarie was a fashionista, a burgeoning hair stylist and an avid dancer who taught kids how to dance at the local community center, in addition to helping out at the local food pantry.

At the funeral, the pastor noted that the teen had been a light in the community, saying Kedarie was “the first person to put [their] arm around a hurting person,” and to “stand up and help someone who was being mistreated.”

Kourtney Yochum, 32

Hometown: Los Angeles, California
Killed: March 23, 2016

Kourtney—also known as Quartney Davia Dawsonn-Yochum—was a resident of the Gateways Apartments, a supportive housing project for formerly homeless people.

“I’m heartbroken. Our residents are traumatized, our staff is traumatized. Everybody loved her,” Anita Nelson, the CEO of the housing organization, told the L.A. Times. “She was very popular.”

Another friend called Kourtney “such a beautiful soul.”

Shante Thompson, 34

Hometown: Houston, Texas
Killed: April 10, 2016

Shante’s mother, Leola, told KHOU that losing her child was the greatest heartbreak she ever faced.

Friend Kevin Braxton said he always looked out for Shante, who had only recently began living as her authentic seld. “I was always been there for her. When I got the call and saw her laying on the ground it really hurt my heart.”

Keyonna Blakeney, 22

Hometown: Montgomery County, Maryland
Killed: April 16, 2016

Keyonna’s father told the Washington Post that Keyonna was “kindhearted [and] down-to-earth.”

At the time of her death, the 22-year-old had just rented an apartment and was planning to move in at the end of the month.

“[Keyonna] loved doing people’s makeup,” said her sister Jasmine. “She loved fashion. She loved all the glamorous stuff girls do.”

Reecey Walker, 32

Hometown: Wichita, Kansas
Killed: May 1, 2016

A friend of Reecey’s told KAKE that the 32-year-old wanted to get a degree in psychology or social work “to help other people try to get through some of the same struggles [she] had been through.”

Other friends described her as someone who “kept us laughing all the time,” and “a loving, playful spirit who only wanted the best for others.”

Mercedes Successful, 32

Hometown: Kingston, Jamaica
Killed: May 15, 2016

Mercedes represented Jamaica in the 2014 Gay Carribbean USA Pageant and, at the time of her death, was a regular performer in gay clubs around Orlando.

A friend told The Ledger that the 32-year-old had recently begun transitioning and was “really ready and looking forward to living her life full time as Mercedes Successful.”

“Such a beautiful person inside and out,” wrote another friend on social media, “…one of the funniest and one of the kindest people I ever met.”

Amos Beede, 38

Hometown: Milton, Vermont
Killed: May 24, 2016

Amos’ family said he often went to the local homeless encampment to help others in need. “Amos lived a complicated life—he had his share of hard times,” they said in a statement. “Maybe because of this, he was a loving and caring person, especially to those who lived in the margins of society.”

The family added that Beede came out to them as transgender a year-and-a-half before his death, noting, “Sometimes we stumble over our words when we talk about him, but our hearts are filled with only love for him. We miss him terribly.”

Goddess Diamond, 20

Hometown: New Orleans, Louisiana
Killed: June 5, 2016

Her first name is unknown, but following her death, she came to be known on social media as “Goddess.”

Displaced from New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina, Diamond had just recently returned to the city after living in Georgia for a decade.

“My baby was kind and loving, and [she] had a big heart,” her mother, Antoinette, told the New Orleans Advocate.

A former Walmart co-worker of Diamond’s described her as “very loved” and “very kind.” “that’s what makes this more difficult. In addition to losing a friend, we lost an LGBT leader.”

Deeniquia Dodds, 22

Hometown: Washington, D.C.
Killed: July 13, 2016

Deeniquia—known by friends as “Dee Dee”—was raised by her aunt Joeann , who told WRC that Dee Dee was a “beautiful person” who “loved to make you laugh. Loved to make you smile.”

Dee Dee was also involved with Casa Ruby, a D.C.–area LGBT advocacy organization. “Deeniquia… is gone, but not forgotten,” founder Ruby Coronado said in a statement. “Her death will not be in vain.”

Dee Whigham, 23

Hometown: Shubuta, Mississippi
Killed: July 23, 2016

Dee had recently finished nursing school and was working as a registered nurse at Forrest Health Hospital in Hattiesburg, Mississippi, the Sun Herald. A GoFundMe page created to cover funeral expenses noted that Dee was working overtime, taking extra shifts and even a second job, to help provide for her mother.

“She will be remembered as an excellent nurse who was well-loved by her patients,” Forrest Health CEO Evan Dillary told the Sun Herald. “I know Dee will be missed by her co-workers, supervisors, and the Forrest Health family.”

Dee’s cousin Raquel called her “a hard-working, kind-hearted person who was just starting [her] life.”

Skye Mockabee, 26

Hometown: Cleveland, Ohio
Killed: July 30, 2016

Skye studied at South University in Cleveland, where she also worked at Chipotle.

Her father said Skye was “real humble.. .wouldn’t hurt a flea [and] loved everybody,” to Cleveland 19, adding that she was “always smiling.”

Erykah Tijerina, 36

Hometown: El Paso, Texas
Killed: August 8, 2016

Erykah’s sister, Pearl, described her as “funny, giving, and unapologetic” in an interview with KFOX.

Pearl also said Erykah “was the one that told me to stay strong and not care” what others thought.

Rae’Lynn Thomas, 28

Hometown: Columbus, Ohio
Killed: August 10, 2016

Rae’Lynn’s family had many loving nicknames for her, including “Ray,” “Rayshawn,” “My Boo Ray Ray,” and “Rayshawna.”

In an interview with WBNS, her aunt Shannon described Rae’Lynn as “a performer, the life of the party and a fashionista,” and someone who brought light into the lives of everyone she knew.

Rae'Lynn Thomas
Facebook

Her family treasures a recording of Rae’Lynn singing one of her favorite Boyz II Men songs, “It’s so Hard to Say Goodbye to Yesterday.”

Lexxi Sironen, 43

lexxi-jpg
Hometown: Warwick, Rhode Island
Killed: September 6, 2016

According to her memorial site, Lexxi was the loving parent to two teenage children.

She had many interests, including camping, carpentry, cooking, drawing, gardening, designing tattoos and Japanese anime.

“Lexxi played the electric guitar and loved all different types of music. She built stone walls, searched for stones and minerals, designed jewelry, welded sculptures made from found materials and made rustic wooden furniture.”

Lexxi’s great great uncle was the Pulitzer-winning poet Robert P. Tristram Coffin.

A friend told the Kennebec Journal that Lexi “would do anything for anybody,” often giving friends money and assistance in times of need.

T.T. Saffore, 27

Hometown: Chicago, Illinois
Killed: September 11, 2016

T.T. was a talented gymnast and hairstylist, according to her older brother Jermaine, who spoke about his sister with the Windy City Times.

T.T.’s friend Jaliyah Armstrong organized a vigil in Chicago following her death, and told the paper, “T.T. was a lovely person. She was laughing all the time. You could be going through a bad day but once you saw [T.T.], she was such a happy cheerful person all that changed.”

Crystal Edmonds, 32

Hometown: Baltimore, Maryland
Killed: September 16, 2016

No other information is available about Crystal. If you are a friend, please share your memories of her in the comments section.

Jazz Alford, 30 years old

Hometown: High Point, North Carolina
Killed: September 23, 2016

“She was such a loving person, and we didn’t know anybody that would want to hurt her,” Jazz’s sister, Toya, told AL.com.

Toya, who is also trans, says her sister’s death “has been a hard pill to swallow.”

Jazz’s former coworkers in the airline industry left sweet notes of remembrance on her Facebook page. “She was a lovely, beautiful person,” wrote one. “Always kind and smiling. What a tragedy.”

Another recalled how she was always willing to cover a shift.

“Whenever I needed Sundays off for church, Jazz would always cover me and say, ‘Pray for me too, chile!” [She] was such a sweet person.”

Brandi Bledsoe, 32

Hometown: Nebraska
Killed: October 9, 2016

Brandi moved from Nebraska to Cleveland several years ago, but remained close with her family. In fact she had recently moved out of her grandfather’s house into her own place before she was killed.

“She was really independent,” Brandi’s cousin John Craggett told Cleveland.com. “A lot of opportunities opened up for her. She was looking for freedom.”

Noony Norwood

Hometown: Richmond, Virginia
Killed: November 6, 2016

“Noony’s energy always brightened the room,” Zakia McKensey, founder of the Nationz Foundation, told the Virginia Anti-Violence Project. “She cared about her community and always lifted up and supported her friends and family.”

Janet Wright, who considered herself Noony’s aunt, told WWBT, “She was a beautiful person, truly, [who] would give you anything—would help anybody—without even a second thought.”

On November 18 at 6/5c, Logo will air the documentary Transformation, spotlighting six trans and gender-nonconforming teens, followed by True Life: We are Transitioning at 7/6c. Then on the Transgender Day of Remembrance, November 20, the names of those we have lost will be shared on the air throughout the day.

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