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December 2, 2011

Vigil, City Hall ceremony mark Transgender Day of Remembrance

Cleveland--The city’s LGBT community commemorated the Transgender Day of Remembrance on November 18 with a vigil at the Free Stamp, a march into City Hall and a program remembering the dead, and honoring those who work to end violence against transgender people.

In an act of irony, however, the next day a transgender woman was attacked at the West 65th Street RTA Rapid station.

Alexis-Alison Lancaster was leaving the station when four teens attacked her, beating and kicking her until she lost consciousness. She says that they were shouting anti-gay slurs.

She tried to use one of the emergency phones at the station, but it did not work. An ambulance took her to MetroHealth, and a police officer took a basic report on the incident. The police report lists “not applicable” under the heading of whether or not it was a hate crime.

Ohio’s hate crime law does not include crimes based on sexual orientation or gender identity. The police could request federal help under the Matthew Shepard-James Byrd Hate Crime Act, or the FBI could step in of its own volition, but they are not required to.

Lancaster is a nursing student and has been the vice president of GLASA, Cleveland State University’s gay-straight alliance.

The attackers likely did not know that the day before marked Cleveland’s honoring of the Transgender Day of Remembrance, which officially took place on November 20. However, different cities hold their commemorations on different days, and there were several across Ohio along the course of the week preceding it.

In Cleveland, it began with “Remembering Our Dead,” a reading of the names of transgender people who were killed in the last year, along with speakers, music and poetry.

As part of “Acknowledging Our Present,” the Illumination Awards were given our, honoring those who work for the full inclusion of transgender people. The Diversity Center of Northeast Ohio was given the award for best supporting organization, while Cecilia Kasten received the outstanding student award. Sue Doerfer, former executive director of the Cleveland LGBT Center and Equality Ohio and a respected counselor, was given the Cisgender Ally Award, given to someone whose identification matches their biology who works through advocacy, activism and education to create a more inclusive community.

Adam Apple Tokar was given the leadership award, while Ward 3 Councilor Joe Cimperman received the Civic Leader Award.

Closing remarks were made under the heading of “Celebrating Our Future,” and the event then went to Union/Bounce, where in the best tradition, it became a celebration of life.

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