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Transgender Day of Remembrance Event Celebrates the Lives of Trans Milwaukeeans

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Margaret Gilhooley
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In recent years, transgender people have gained more visibility in the public sphere. Celebrities like Laverne Cox and Caitlyn Jenner have shined light on transgender narratives. Still, the trans community is disproportionately targeted for abuse and violence.

"It was originally set up to remember... the trans people [who] had been lost to anti-trans violence and that is still a major piece of the puzzle."

Now, LGBTQ groups from around Milwaukee are coming together to celebrate the Transgender Day of Remembrance at Greene Hall at UWM, Thursday, November 17. 

The celebration is a way of remembering the lives of transgender people and their contributions to our community.

"It was originally set up to remember... the trans people [who] had been lost to anti-trans violence and that is still a major piece of the puzzle," says says Loree Cook-Daniels, policy and program director of FORGE, a transgender anti-violence organization and the organizer of Milwaukee's Transgender Day of Remembrance event. 

But it's not all about violence against trans people, Cook-Daniels believes it's important to move beyond the abuse and violence that plagues the transgender community, and highlight the ways in which trans people are making strides in our community. 

"What FORGE works on in particular is raising awareness of the violence, yes... but also trying very hard to raise the sense of the trans community that we are worthy."

"What FORGE works on in particular is raising awareness of the violence, yes; raising awareness of ways people can try to lower the violence, yes. But also trying very hard to raise the sense of the trans community that we are worthy, and that we can live good lives, and that we can support each other," says Cook-Daniels. 

Although the idea of a remembrance may evoke a sense of solemnity and seriousness, FORGE wants the event to be more than an observance for attendees. 

"If they're trans, we want them to feel part of a much larger and loving community. If they're not trans, we want them to come away with a sense that we are all part of a community and that all of us are needed, and wanted, and worthy of support," she says.  

Cook-Daniels hopes the Transgender Day of Remembrance event will be both an opportunity for healing and a way of recognizing the strength and humanity of trans people. 

"The reality is that we all do want the same things."

"The reality is that we all do want the same things and what often happens with trans people and with other kinds of difference, is that people come up to a trans person and think, 'Oh, this is somebody I've never met before, some kind of somebody I've never met before. I don't know what to do.' When the reality is: this is an individual you haven't met before, so what do you do when you meet an individual for the first time? You get to know them," says Cook-Daniels. 

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Joy Powers joined WUWM January 2016 as a producer for Lake Effect. Before then, she was a director and producer for Afternoon Shift, on WBEZ-fm Chicago Public Radio.